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  1. Aircraft Review : T-7A Red Hawk X-Plane 12 by Angle of Attack In March 2024, Angle of Attack Simulations released for the X-Plane 11 Simulator the T-7A Red Hawk. The Boeing/SAAB T-7A Red Hawk is the US Air Force’s newest fast jet training aircraft. It was designed to replace the more than 50 year old Northrup T-38 Talon, and to better prepare new military pilots for the future advanced aircraft they will fly later. The first T-X aircraft flew on 20 December 2016 via the T-X program. The Boeing-Saab team then submitted their entry after the Air Force opened the T-X program to bids in December 2016. In September 2018, Air Force officials announced that Boeing's design would be its new advanced jet trainer, under an up-to-US$9.2 billion (~$10.6 billion in 2022) program and would purchase 351 aircraft, 46 simulators, maintenance training and support. This contract has options for up to 475 airplanes in total. The aircraft entered series production in February 2021. In April 2021, Saab Group delivered one aft section of T-7A aircraft to the Boeing St. Louis plant. In July 2021, Saab had delivered the second aft section to the Boeing St. Louis plant. Boeing will splice Saab's aft section with the front section, fins, wings and tail assembly to become a complete test aircraft for use in the EMD's (Engineering and Manufacturing Development ) flight test program. The first production T-7 was rolled out on 28 April 2022, and the first flight of the T-7A production aircraft was conducted from St. Louis Lambert International Airport in June 2023, by Major Bryce Turner, a test pilot with the 416th Flight Test Squadron at Edwards Air Force Base, California, and Steve Schmidt, Boeing’s chief T-7 test pilot. On 21 September 2023, the first Red Hawk was shipped to the US Air Force. By November 2023, the USAF was now actively considering the possibility of turning the T-7 into an armed combat aircraft. Conceptually dubbed the F-7, such a jet could provide roughly the same capability as a fourth-generation fighter which could maintain force numbers as F-16s aircraft are retired, and could also replace older Northrop F-5 and Dornier Alpha Jet platforms on the export market. The single production Red Hawk was deployed at Edwards Air Force Base for advanced testing for this role. X-PlaneReviews covered the release of the AOA T-7A Red Hawk in an X-Plane 11 review: First Impression Review : T-7A Red Hawk by AOA Simulations It was an interesting review. Remember that the aircraft at the time was still really at it's experimental stage and AOA only had limited information on the aircraft performance and design capabilities, overall it was a very good representation of the new era trainer and it's features. Here is the X-Plane 12 upgrade to the aircraft, a new release version, as the number is noted at v1.0, the same as the original X-Plane 11 release version. The T-7A is again released as three versions; TX prototype, T-7A advanced trainer and the T-7N Navy version. The T-7A has a thorough modern design and feel to the aircraft, fully carbon composite in construction, as it looks to the future, and not to the past in aircraft design. The X-Plane look and feel is quite different from the bland X-Plane 11 look, with now more depth and better shadows... however look closely and the poor resolution skin is still there with very blurry text and logos, a real shame as AOA had a chance to update with X-Plane 12 in these areas to give the aircraft detail more depth, add in 4K, even 8K textures and bring out the quality to a higher standard. That said AOA aircraft (the Raptor) was the same, are brilliant at a distance, but become lo-res in detail at a close up inspection. But the Hawk here is definitely, if a massive improvement over the XP11 version with the X-Plane 12 PBR and lighting effects now active... The gear and inboard bays are the same as well. Well done but starchy white, yes this is a pre-production aircraft and clean, that said it is really well done in the excellent complex detail and design. Ditto the engine inlets, too modeled, still too noticeably bright (distracting) from the external. The rear exhaust is again well done, better here than with X-Plane 11, even though the textures are the same, same with the twin-vertical rudders, with the same modeled (not textured) joints. Canopy and glass is still as good, very nice with depth and nice curves and reflections, a requirement with a trainer aircraft. So in the transition, in modeling and texture terms the T-7A is in reality the same, but thankfully X-Plane 12 does add in a bit of flare because of it's superior lighting. and dynamics, after three years the X-Plane 12 version is far superior. The "T" is in "Trainer", so you have a twin-seat aircraft, with the rear for the instructor/observer. Both flight instrument and controls are exactly the same, so you can fly the T-7A from the front or rear (an option here). Compared to say the F-104 Starfighter, it is highly minimalistic in the cockpit, very little switch gear and everything is on the one large and two smaller instrument displays... Left side panel gives you Lights, Engines, Electrical and the chunky throttle. Right side has DOORS (Canopy, IFR, BWS), IFF (Identification Friend or Foe) or Transponder, right is also the Joystick controller. The internal mirrors now can be hidden with a click, not in the usual earlier menu option. Notable is the laptop AviTab, it can be rotated from Portrait to Landscape positions, but not hidden. There are two main instrument panels, the selection "Up-Front" Display (UFD) and the lower wide "Panoramic cockpit" Display. There is a third Engine/Fuel display that is positioned right, with both switchable numbers and percentage displays... The "Panoramic cockpit" display covers eight different choices, with three displays with the NAV/MAP central and two switchable screens left and right. But you can use the top 1 2 3 4 pre-set buttons to change the display. Left button options include; Aircraft Configuration, ADI (Attitude Direction Indicator), Flight Controls and RWS (Target mode). Right buttons include; MAP, HSI (Horizontal Situation Indicator), SYS (Systems) and NAV. The NAV/MAP range is selected by pressing the ZOOM-IN and ZOOM-OUT selections, and the Pop-Out is the XP G1000 panel display. Note on the ground On the ground, aircraft configuration is shown and a start-up checklist is provided in the left column. Once airborne only the applicable information is then displayed. Overall the "Panoramic cockpit" display is the same as the X-Plane 11 version. The "Up Front" top display is however different in X-Plane 12. In reality the UFD has been simplified, gone is the complex grid layout, to a more easier accessed display... press the NESW logo to change the UFD to a "Compass" Page. Outer knobs adjust (left); HDG (Heading), SPD (Speed), TST (Test), HUD (on/off). Right knobs include; ALT (Altitude) VVI (Vertical Velocity Indicator) RDR (terrain follow altitude) and screen Brightness. Lower options include NAV tuning and bottom COM tuning. There are 54 pre-set GPS (VOR 2) options that can be inserted (active) by pressing the D->. You can add in your own GPS frequency, but it is a messy and tricky process with a text editor, it would have been nice to have had an easy way to add in the function. Selecting VOR or GPS selection is oddly via the SRC, not the GPS, so it is hard to find. Also selecting the headphones on the COM, you can go into "Silent" mode on the radio. TST (Test) mode is very good, and TAC/VOR toggle: NAV1 is a combination VOR or TACAN radio. There is a backup ADI (Artificial Horizion), with a barometric pressure set knob. If the HUD power is OFF then airspeed, altitude, and heading are presented in the backup ADI. There is also a click spot “cheat” for the IFR door toggle in the upper right corner of the display. (IFR - In Flight Refueling) Menu The Menu system is the same X-Plane Banner placement, but the menu selection is very different, with now only two selections with; "Ground Equip" (Equipment) and "Options". Previously there were 10 options, but that has been reduced down to only these two. Ground Equipment, (Static Elements), selecting ground equipment will give you flags, pitot cover, large side stairs and engine intake covers... Newly added for XP12 are chocks (finally) and a rear exhaust outlet cover (very nice). Options: For the "Options" there is now a new Pop-Up dialog box with ten selections. First three selections are the "Auto" control of Flaps, Gear and Speed Brake systems, off is Manual control. Then Canopy Reflections on/off and Baro/Temperature switch. Left column has; TX Nose Probe, Navy Version with twin-nose wheels, tailhook and refueling probe... The External Power doesn't give you a physical GPU externally, just the internal power supply, it also oddly kills the Static Elements? "Quick Start" will set the T-7A ready to fly with the engine running, and the "Back Seat" set you in the rear instructor seat, not the forward seat. Overall the Ground Equip and Options selection is now far better coordinated and certainly easier to use than in the earlier XP11 layout. Liveries are the not same three as before with... US Air Force T-7A (Default) and TX - Prototype still present, but the US Navy Arctic Camo has been dropped to be replaced by the T-7N Navy Hawk. There are also a load of additional liveries available here: T-7 Red Hawk ______________ Flying the T-7A XP12 The Red Hawk is a trainer aircraft in a sequence of levels to acquire a full Jet Fighter certificate under the JPATS or Joint Primary Aircraft Training System. Entry level is Student on the T-6A Texan ll aircraft (propeller), that then moves to the T-1A Jayhawk in SUPT roles, then the T-38C Talon is used in the advanced pilot training role, but the T-5A category (APT T-X Program) is for the advance training to fourth and fifth generation aircraft (i.e. computer based) and multiple system based technology capability. The first thing you notice in the cockpit of the T-7A is on how so very minimalistic everything is, I will note that a lot of this new technology capability is also built into the pilot's helmet that can not be replicated here in X-Plane (well not yet anyway). AOA do however show you how to set up your joystick with XP commands that does certain actions, and the XP A.I. (AI Aircraft) is also similarly set up for hostility operations and refueling. The GpsFPLInput plugin by Gtagentman is also recommended to be installed as well. First there are a couple of settings in the T-7A to understand before takeoff. First is the "NWS" or Nosewheel steering, it's a tricky one to get right... I lost a bit of time with this one? First of all if it shows NWS in the HUD, the steering (via Nosewheel Tiller yaw) won't work? to get it to be active you have too have set (keyboard or Joystick button) the command "Nosewheel steer toggle" to activate the steering, it shows by the HUD icon changing to T-7A (or T-7N -Navy), then you can steer the Red Hawk. I will note that I also lost a considerable amount of time because the steering still didn't work with the NWS steering set correctly, even the developer couldn't work it out.... the cause was actually Laminar? I found that when X-Plane 12 loads, it loads with the "Landing gear" lever in the up position? And yes I have complained to Laminar to fix it! but that was the cause of the non-steering this time... put the lever in the correct down position and you will have steering. Second is the BWS or "Brake With Stick", which will use the Joystick to control the braking, pull back slightly to release the brakes, the use of the stick on the takeoff or landing roll, then push forward to brake, a neutral stick then releases the brakes. But it's tricky to use, and you feel initially the aircraft is locked down. To deactivate, then switch it off via the BWS switch far right on the "DOORS" panel. My advice is to turn off all these "Auto" helpers in the BWS, Flaps, Gear and Speed Brakes, and fly the T-7A manually, then turn them back on individually to see how they work, everything turned on together can be confusing to a novice, when the aircraft is doing all the actions for you, they are very good, no doubt, but also control the aircraft in an systematic way. Taxiing is a little tricky if you go too fast, the Hawk will wriggle under the stick, so keep the knots down, otherwise it is a nice ride. Full Throttle and the "afterburner" igniter kicks in, and you power off down the runway, speed at full thrust is colossal. Rotation was around 250 knts, high, but no flaps here, and the Hawk just powers into the air. Gear retraction is excellent, and very realistic. Note I set the flaps at 4% next time, and that was about perfect for a (shorter) run takeoff. I have to quickly reduce the throttle, if not would break the sound barrier at a low level... the speed numbers are just twirling up so quick. Now in a (fast) cruise I fly by St Louis City... time to feel out the aircraft. First of all the X-Plane 12 version feels very different than the XP11 release. Yes those fine touchy movements with stick are still required, but the machine feels far, far more refined, as a lot of the earlier feel was very touchy, certainly in the pitch. I'll hold my hand up and say I wasn't in liking the earlier feel, the aircraft I loved, the control I wasn't that fussy about... but this is now a revelation, this is FANTASTIC. Although a trainer aircraft, it still has to perform to a standard, a high standard if you are going to mirror a fifth generation fighter. And so the Hawk does. Back on the throttle and you climb... 33,500 ft/min (170.2 m/s) or 10, 211 m/min to a ceiling of 50,000ft... WOW! There is a bit of a trick here, keep increasing the Vertical Speed (V/S) until you match the increasing/decreasing speed and until they both slow and then hold steady together, it is a fabulous ride. Your at an altitude of 30,000ft in no time. Maximum projected speed is Mach 1.05, with a general cruise speed of 526 kn (605 mph, 974 km/h), and a range of around 990 nmi (1,140 mi, 1,830 km). Turning is unusual in the T-7A. The aircraft has no ailerons, as the tail elevator does the all work here. So if you turn into a bank, then the turn is slow and wide... no matter the bank angle? To get the turn tighter you need some rudder control to twist the Hawk into the direction you want to go... ... a touch of back-stick is also required to stop the nose dipping downwards. So it is a more physical machine to fly than before. Then there is the "Roll 2 See” or R2C feature. This is activated by the left side instrument switch... and the function is shown in the menu left bar Basically you now move with the aircraft (or roll with it)... left, right, up or down. At first it can be a bit discerning as you lose your perspective control, but it works well, certainly in following low terrain or deep in a canyon which is highly recommended. Again another to be switched off until you are familiar with the aircraft, and best experienced in flight, unless you are used to using the R2C system. It's the same with "Target Track mode" that is displayed on the icon bar. The Target Track takes command of the pilot point of view camera in order to point the camera at a selected AI plane (the target) and then follow it. Then keeping it in view at all times until you change the view to either 2D or the usual 3D. To activate the TRK mode, you need to be in the 3D cockpit view. The R2C rocker switch is switched ON, you have “Weapon select” and “Target select” completed, then “Weapon select up” once to enter “Track Mode”, then click “Target select up” once or more to your preferred target. Tricky to get right! but clever when it works. Track-IR and VR headsets do work well, but they do require complete control of the pilot POV camera. GCAS Ground Collision Avoidance System protects the airplane and the pilot by estimating time to ground impact and restoring level flight using the auto pilot. As the aircraft approaches the ground two converging arrows appear in the HUD along with a time to impact. When the arrow meet in the center then the system will enter a recovery mode (FLY UP) to avoid ground impact.... sounds like fun... not! Notable is the IFR (In Flight Refueling) the switch is on the DOORS panel, and recesses the IFR panel top of the T-7A. GPS As noted you can set any of the 54 pre-set GPS (VOR 2) options or place coordination of say a AFB or City. When selected (GPS) the aircraft will then track to those coordinates, very good it is... but what if where you want to go is not in that set list (for me St Louis KSTL). Like mentioned it is not easy to add in a new pre-set location, and the ones in there can over-ride the GPS system... so a system is required by AOA to allow you add in a new GPS coordinate into the system easily is definitely required? I found it frustrating, even useless to use, unless you only fly out of a USA AFB. Lighting Because of the dynamic views features, you do find some view tools restricted even in 3D use, so you are sort of locked into the seat, and you can look up, down and side to side, but you can't move around like forwards or backwards... so the lighting images are restricted here. It is basic anyway, the instrument lighting is good, but locked with no adjustment except for the UFD with a knob on the panel. The only adjustment is the "Overhead Light" on the ELECTRICAL panel, one for front and one for the rear. The canopy reflections are excellent and can also be turned off if to distracting. Externally the Red Hawk is basic, there are no "Formation" lights? or even a red beacon light. The T-7A's landing lights are on the undercarriage, so they only work when the gear is down... here the lighting has been tuned to XP12, and very nice it looks. As mentioned, I wasn't that in liking the T-7A earlier, we just didn't gel as a partnership. Maybe it was the total automation of the aircraft? This time around for X-Plane 12 I have turned most of the automation off, odd yes, but I found the aircraft came alive in my hands when it did, maybe it was because I felt I was in control, and not the aircraft. It is an interesting point. I only left the "Speedbrake" Auto switched on, but found you still could not drop the flaps (manually) until you had dropped the gear down. Approach is around 175 knts with full flap 56%. The flaps marker will flash, then only go solid when you are at the full flap position. This time around I found the Red Hawk so much more docile on the approach, rather than with those earlier wild erratic movements. I could sit there elevated in my position and fine tune the approach with ease, its a trainer aircraft, this is what it should be like for the novice airman. Throttle control is very nice, and you can easily adjust your height approach by slight forward and rear movements of the lever, just a smudge below 150 knts and you have the perfect slight nose up angle finals. More nose up going into a high flare, reduces the speed to 130 knts, you feel like an Eagle feathering the tips of your wings ready to land. Touch was around 128 knts, it felt faster, as the auto Speedbrakes kicked into action. Lovely, nice... perfect landing, what more do you want. Notable is that I had to reset the NWS to T-7A to get my steering working again before tuning off the runway, otherwise I was very impressed with the XP12 Red Hawk. __________________ Summary In March 2024, Angle of Attack released for the X-Plane 11 Simulator the T-7A Red Hawk. The Boeing/SAAB T-7A Red Hawk is the US Air Force’s newest fast jet training aircraft. It was designed to replace the more than 50 year old Northrup T-38 Talon, and to better prepare new military pilots for the future advanced aircraft they will fly later. This X-Plane 12 is a totally new release, on the X-Plane 11 version. As in reality it is mostly a complete rework of the aircraft. Admittedly the XP11 version was at the time lacking in any real world data on the aircraft, not even the performance had been published, and those aspects have been now fixed here. This is now a far, far more refined simulation. The T-7A comes in three versions; TX prototype, T-7A advanced trainer and T-7N Navy version. The modeling is actually very good, but more different at a distance in quality,. The Lo-Res closeup like the XP11 version is still there to a point here, but this time around in X-Plane 12 the PBR and lighting effects really bring out the quality and realism and give the aircraft far more depth in the air. Features are excellent and very modern, R2C “Roll to See” POV camera, "Target Track" which points, locks and follows AI planes with pilot camera, AGCA - Automatic Ground Collision Avoidance System, "Virtual" ground and In-Flight Refueling capability and Track-IR and VR compatibility are all great features, notable are the "Auto" tools for Flaps, Gear, brakes and Speedbrakes are advanced features as on the real aircraft. Great Static Elements and probe are also nice menu additions, in that also the menu has been simplified but now more effective. So also changed is the old "Up-Front" Display from the complicated grid display, overall all are great improvements. Instrumentation and weapons are an all military style glass system, clever and well replicated here. There are some compromises with your view movements with the speciality view tools used in the features here, so forward and rear movements are restricted. Restricted GPS auto track is also limited with no edit or add position access. The biggest maturity with X-Plane 12 however is in the flight dynamics and handing for the T-7A. This is a more benign but more controllable machine, gone are sharp pitches and the sudden jerks of the Autopilot actions. The T-7A is more smooth and now handles like a trainer aircraft should, I wasn't completely convinced on the Red Hawk's earlier dynamics, but this new improved XP12 version is a revelation in this current form, and I really simply love it now, but it still requires time to learn the systems and tune into all the aspects of this aircraft. You get both the new X-Plane 12 and updated X-Plane 11 version T-7A with the package, currently there are no upgrade deals. So overall the new X-Plane 12 version of the T-7A Red Hawk is a massive step forward, it looks, feels, and handles far, far better in it's new environment, so the trainer of the future is here now, and it comes with a big YES from me. _______________________ The T-7A Red Hawk XP12 by AOA Simulations is now available from the X-Plane.Org Store: T-7A Red Hawk XP12 Priced at US$36.00 Advanced Features SASL 3.16.1 based plug-in system “Roll to See” dynamic pilot POV camera option (non-VR mode) points pilot camera based on pitch, roll and G forces "Target Track" points, locks and follows AI planes with pilot camera Automatic Ground Collision Avoidance System Fly from forward or aft cockpits as student or instructor "Virtual" ground and In-Flight Refueling capability Track-IR and VR compatible AviTab tablet integration (Download AviTab plugin separately) Cockpit based on preliminary assessment of prototype T-X screen shots Head Up Display Up Front 32 points touch screen control and display panel Large format glass panel with embedded G1000 color moving map Multiple sub panel page options Dedicated engine data display Requirements X-Plane 12 or X-Plane 11 (both versions included) 4 GB VRAM Video Card Minimum - 8 GB+ VRAM Recommended Download Size: 429 MB Current version: XP12 1.0 (September 29th 2023) This aircraft is noted as a new version, to date there are no upgrade deals from the X-Plane 11 version, but that may change. ________________ Installation and documents: download for the T-7A Red Hawk is 429Mb and the aircraft is deposited in the "Fighters" X-Plane folder. Full Installation is 521MBb AviTab Plugin is required for this aircraft Documents supplied are: 2019 CRS report T-7A Red Hawk program.pdf Get Me Flying, NOW!.pdf Printable Checklists Red Hawk bases.png Route around Europe.png T-7A User Guide.pdf Training Flights Documentation consists of a Quick Look overview, User guide, and the official CRS T-7A report... also provided is a Speed Chart (png), Checklists, and Red Hawk Bases and Route around Europe (png) and a "Get me Flying NOW!" tutorial Designed by Fabrice Kauffmann and David Austin of AOA Simulations Support forum for the T-7A _____________________ Update Review by Stephen Dutton 21st December 2023 Copyright©2023: X-Plane Reviews Review System Specifications:  Windows - 12th Gen IS1700 Core i7 12700K 12 Core 3.60 GHz CPU - 64bit -32 Gb single 1067 Mhz DDR4 2133 - PNY GeForce RTX 3080 10GB XLR8 - Samsung 970 EVO+ 2TB SSD Software: - Windows 11 Pro - X-Plane 12.08rc3 (This is a Release Candidate review). Plugins: Traffic Global - JustFlight-Traffic (X-Plane.OrgStore) US$52.99 : Global SFD plugin US$30.00 Scenery or Aircraft - KSTL - St. Louis Lambert International Airport by StarSim-KSTL (X-Plane.OrgStore) - US$22.00 (Disclaimer. All images and text in this review are the work and property of X-PlaneReviews, no sharing or copy of the content is allowed without consent from the author as per copyright conditions) All Rights Reserved
  2. Aircraft Upgrade Review : Piper Aerostar 601P X-Plane 12 by Avia71 Aerostar held the speed record for fastest twin piston general aviation aircraft. It is capable of cruise speeds from 220 kn (408 km/h) for the earliest 600 models to 261 kn (483 km/h) for the later 700 models. Light construction, low drag and high powered engines also contribute to fast climb rates... The Aerostar is a goer, fast, famously fast as it did drug running and created a movie with Tom Cruise in it called "American Made". Piper Aerostar (formerly Ted Smith Aerostar) is an American twin-engined propeller-driven executive or light transport aircraft. It was designed by the famous Ted R. Smith. It was originally built by Ted Smith Aircraft Company, which after 1978 became part of the Piper Aircraft Corporation. It also has shades of the Aero Commander in the design (another Ted Smith design), but with an almost jet trainer tail section, wings are almost swept forward. But the cabin size is huge at 1.17 m (3 ft 10 in) in width and 3.81 m (12 ft 6 in) in length. The Aerostar is the sports car of the air to the utility truck like Commander. The Aerostar 601P was released in X-Plane 11 by Avia 71, in July 2018, the "P' version denotes it is the Pressurised version of the 601, it comes with an increased gross weight and 492 were built. The Avia71 601P aircraft has collected a few updates in the intervening years, and now with this the transition upgrade to X-Plane 12. Yes it is a pay upgrade, but original purchasers of the X-Plane 11 version can upgrade to the X-Plane 12 version for 50% off. X-PlaneReviews did a full XP11 release version review here... Aircraft Review : Piper Aerostar 601P by Avia71 In the review I loved the aircraft, better was the 601P update v1.4 in January 2019 that added in VR (Virtual Reality) and X-Plane's final 11.30 compatibility. So here is the X-Plane 12 conversion, if any aircraft would certainly benefit to be available in X-Plane 12 it is the Aerostar. Externally the X-Plane 12 version is very much the same, but now seriously benefits from the XP12 more better lighting effects. The XP11 version felt a bit bland in that earlier period, but that is not the case here, as the effects bring out the shape, shadows and generates the 601P of being more alive. The 601P is nicely modeled, but to understand that in this price range you are not going to get ultra realism, not in the Thranda aspect certainly... that said the details are well done and as noted seriously benefit from the XP12 lighting and PBR. Power is still provided by two Avco Lycoming TIO-540-U2A flat six counter-rotating piston engines, rated at 350 hp (261 kW) each. There are no new features with the XP12 upgrade, but a few areas have been refined, improved and updated. The lighting provides more far more depth to the instruments. Before they had a more flat(ish) feel, but the instrument panel looks far better here in the XP12 601P. The instruments do provide that earlier era feel to the aircraft, and the developer has aimed at recreating the mid-sixties design authenticity. The cabin is as noted 3ft 10ins across, as it may be, but it looks bigger inside than say almost four 12 inch rulers put end to end? Brown vinyl outer with the nice straw like matting inserts gives you the right feel, seating is for pilot+five passengers or three children across the rear bench. The famous wooden slat blinds are excellent here, really realistic. Both yokes can be hidden independently, and there is a ADF pointer dial and bottom far right is a Garmin NAV2 alignment dial. Lower panel is a Bendix/King KR 87 ADF receiver and a Bendix/King GTX 320A Transponder (don't forget to turn both ON). Avionic equipment includes a Collins AMR 350 radio top, then the X-Plane native Garmin 530 GPS unit. An early Garmin NAV2 Radio is next and this is connected to a Bendix/King N1/N2/ADF readout panel for NM, Speed (kts) and Min. Lower stack is a very authentic NARCO KWK 66 weather display, with the highlight of the ST3400, which is inspired by the SANDEL ST3400 that shows TERRAIN or TOPO and Wind direction top right.. Menus The menu tab "71" (left middle screen) is gone for X-Plane 12. Now the menu selection is positioned in the X-Plane banner menu The menu also now called "Tweaks & Stuff", consists of five tabs that cover: Checklist, Weights&Balances, Cabin Altitude (Calculator), Data&Maintenance and Magics. A welcome page pops up when you first start the aircraft. The menus are now also scalable for size, and still can be moved around the screen. Checklists is a fifteen page checklist (a hard copy is provided as well) and it is important to get the right sequence of setup of the oxygen/pressurization system (it's complicated). Clever is the use of dots lower menu, to navigate the checklist. Weights&Balances menu is a excellent... You can select five extra 3d passengers that are shown externally in the aircraft, and can also choose to hide each person at will via the red spots. You can't adjust their actual weight's but the averages are fine in lbs/kgs, Fuel is left and right wing tanks 372lbs (62 US GAL) per tank maximum and a centre (fuselage) tank 249 lbs (41.5 US GAL) maximum. There is a payload (baggage) selection to 2336 lbs/1060 kg and then you are noted as "Overloaded". Cabin Altitude Calculator is a helper to compute your cabin altitude setting and the differential pressure. Just press the required altitude to show the computation. Data&Maintenance gives you your time of board (and on ground percentage %), Engines Operating time (hours) and time to your next service. Tire health and your two battery health percentages are also shown. You can fix the Batteries, Change the tires and fix your engines via the buttons. Magics, replaces the old "Option" title. This tab has four options (Magics!) to choose from. "Spanner" is Mechanical Management, that allows you to state to keep your previous mechanical state or repair all parts at the start of each flight. "Fuel" states allows you to either keep the last fuel level recorded or set an average fuel state for each flight. The "Cone" tab can set static elements like cones and wheel chocks... the final option is a "Pill"? This will either forget all your current data (on the Data page) from previous flights or keep all your current data active for this flight, in other words you keep all the data or just the data from this current flight. New is the option to hide the passengers all internally, but not externally, which is a bit odd? Documents holder Down to the pilot's left (arrowed) is a clipboard that acts like a pop-up documents holder. The original XP11 Doc Holder was not very good and very hard to read. That has been revamped here for X-Plane 12, with now a scalable pop-up that is far more usable. Navigation is via the banner tools, BACK, DOWN, UP and SELECT... it's simple and works well. You can add in your own documents via a .png 1150X1733px 72dpi image that is placed in the aircraft's/CUSTOM DOCS/CHARTS folder. Note the title uses the Aerobask system for navigation... so the document titles have to be correct. Tricky to do, but not impossible and it is explained in the Manual. Here I inserted charts for KDAB or Daytona Beach. A needed function missing though is "Rotate" to rotate the charts from Portrait to Landscape? Other Document options include; "Cheklists" (Checklists) and "Miscellaneous". There is the Split main door which is well done, but quite a step up without still the lower step? It is opened either internally, and now externally as well. Note the nice feature of the Propeller feathering, it is also well done and looks authentic. I will note the internal boundries. I didn't like them at all this time around, as they don't give you a lot of movement in the cabin, and you always seem to bouncing off the walls and sitting slightly centre. I don't remember the boundries being this over-constricting before? _______________ In the air the quirks of the 601P soon again become apparent. First is the loud (twin) alerts for the engines RPM, when over the 25 RPM red marker, then you will get a warning light for each engine and a lot of noise... but setting the throttle below this speed makes the aircraft fly really slow, at around 170kts... So there is a bit of Merlin magic required... ... you set the Prop (Propeller) levers oddly to nearly mid-gate, same adjustment with the Mixture levers in a leaner lower setting, then the reverse happens as the Aerostar builds up speed like a Saturn 5 Second Stage ll and up goes your speed... ... get the levers postioning right and the 601P just flies along (yes, pun intended). Then there is the complicated pressurisation system. There was the pressure calculator you require on the menu tab, then you must seal the door (that switch) and make sure all the panel indicators are on and green, then set the cabin altitude, and the cabin rate to full increase. Once climbing you then have to move the cabin rate to full decrease, then reset the cabin altitude to the desired altitude and then adjust the rate of climb until you reach your altitude... once there you have to keep your eye on the DIFF PRESS as It should never exceed 4.25 PSI. and if exceeded, then an alarm knob warns you (yes another loud alarm) on the right panel. Then just do the reverse procedures to go down. If you do the pressurisation procedure correct, then you can climb, fast... or around 1,840 ft/min (9.4 m/s), to a ceiling of 25,000 ft (7,620 m), so the Aerostar is an interesting aircraft, and the details or features if you want to call them that, are really well done by Avia71, and the feel and use is as note very era authentic as well. While flying (nicely) along at 200 knts, I looked at the instrument panel... it was different, almost black? I remember a cream lighter style panel on the X-Plane 11 version? There were originally seven liveries, including the "American Made" N164HH. In this XP12 version you now get eleven liveries... ... plus four different panel colours (Cream, light Green/Blue, Dark grey and Black, depending on the choice of livery. Sounds earlier in X-Plane 11 were already FMOD, but here updated to FMOD2, and are glorious, great thrumming under load, well coordinated to the sublime cabin noise, I really love them, except when the alerts make you jump out of your skin! They are VERY loud. Lighting has also had the X-Plane 12 treatment, looks lovely inside, and the panel really shines. There are two forward overhead spotlights, and four spots in the rear cabin, all switchable and they all look very nice. External lighting is quite basic, Navigation, Strobe and Taxi/Landing in the nose... Another 601P quirk is the flaps... flip the lever down for a change of flap at UP-10º-20º-30º-FULL and it flips up again till you press it again for another drop position and you do the same flipping operation upwards to retract, it's easy but tricky at the same time, as it is hard to see what flap selection position you are in and even counting noises doesn't really work. so it is mostly a feel and guess on what speed and flap position your are actually in... and in time you will certainly get used to it, but it is not easy at the start. My steps were 130knts (guessing) for 10º, 100 knts for 20º and a nice approach speed, 30º at 90knts and then a final drop to FULL at 85knts... 77 knots (143 km/h; 89 mph) is your stall speed. Now we are low(ish) to ground, we can also look at the undercarriage, which is very nice and well detailed in wear and is worn visually. Handling is really great, the control in your hands is perfect, as the 601P responds very nicely to any inputs. My only concern is the Aerostar flies very nose (or pitch) down, at high altitude at full power, but it is also very noticeable when in the approach phase, you can adjust for it obviously, but it doesn't feel natural. As you go into the final descent, this aspect becomes far more pronounced, no matter the speed or flap position, and I couldn't dial it out, go too slow to lift the nose and you just lose height? Avio71 has overall certainly done more work on the flight model this time, took their time and got it right. The earlier original release also had a few bugs, but everything this time around felt more tighter and smoother in X-Plane 12. Over the fence at a 100 kts, I found it hard in the flare, yes to get the nose to rise, it did a little, but the landing was a bit on the three gear points together. Maybe one to practise? Yes I totally love flying the Aerostar 601P, it is a fast all-rounder, certainly far more matured in X-Plane 12, this is a really nice and well conceived transition to the upgraded X-Plane Simulator. Summary In the areas of value and features you get a lot of aircraft for your money, and a very iconic aircraft at that as well, with this Aerostar 601P from Avia71. And many of the features provided here are all very clever, very authentic to the Mid-Sixties era, to the aircraft and it's operations. Now the Aerostar 601P is upgraded and available in X-Plane 12 Features include the complex pressurisation system, active circuit breaker panel, fuel system including X-FEED, Flap system, Century X Autopilot and authentic NARCO KWK 66 Weather display and SANDEL ST3400. Systems save parameters between flights in data and maintenance or can be set for just one flight and excellent menus with checklists, weight management, cabin altitude calculator, maintenance, stats and options. Sounds have been updated to FMOD2, and overall are better and more consistent. The original modeling is more conspicuous, as there is now more depth and better PBR, so those earlier white liveries don't wash out the finer details anymore, but the animated roof blinds and the very realistic weathered undercarriage are still standouts. Feels far better in the flight dynamics as well, although the nose pitch in flight and approach is a bit worrying. Any comments are with the passengers, I feel they need a bit more work, certainly less saturation, and the internal cabin boundaries are too restrictive. A few review aircraft that X-PlaneReviews fly, become far more interesting with the more time you spend with them, and certainly the Aerostar falls well into that category, it sort of goes deeper and deeper with the complex but interesting systems and the overwhelming great ideas that are at play here. And the more I fly and tune into the aircraft, then the more you really, really like it, so interesting to very interesting is the words to sum the aircraft up. Better is this refined X-Plane 12 version, time has been taken to get it right, and In this price range then it is excellent value and it is quite different in a flying machine and in the way that you even interact with it, but then again the 601P is a Ted R Smith aircraft as well and he certainly made very different and interesting aircraft, so in that aspect the Avia71 Aerostar 601P certainly honors the legend of it's creator. Overall highly recommended. ______________________  Yes! the Piper Aerostar 601P XP12 by Avia71 is NOW available from the X-Plane.Org Store here : Aerostar 601P XP12 Price is US$29.95!   Features Ultra High Definition Model 4K Textures throughout Full PBR High quality 3D model FMOD custom sounds Fully VR compatible Reality-XP's GTN 750 integrated Features Fully functional 3D cockpit Custom menu containing checklists, weight management, cabin altitude calculator, maintenance, stats, options Custom instruments Custom pressurization system Custom animations Disengageable system for saving parameters between flights Customizable documents holder (read your charts, checklists... in flight) Custom fuel feeding system Complete set of original checklists 7 liveries + paintkit Auto-Updater Keep your aircraft up-to-date with SkunkCrafts auto-updater Easy to use Requirements X-Plane 12 (not for XP11) Windows, Mac, or Linux 8 GB+ VRAM Recommended Download Size: 490 MB Current version : XP12 (December 17th 2023) Customers who own the Aerostar 601 for XP11 can get this new XP12 version for 50% off. Coupon code can be found in your original Aerostar Invoice ________________ Installation and documents: download for the Aerostar is 488Mb and the aircraft is deposited in the "General Aviation" X-Plane folder. Full Installation is 657MBb Authorisation is required, and a restart. Updates are via Skunkcraft Updater. AviTab Plugin is required for this aircraft Documents supplied are: Avia71_AEROSTAR_601P_Checklists.pdf Avia71_AEROSTAR_601P_Manual.pdf There is good Documentation provided here, not only for the 601P including: performance charts, reference guides, avionics and a printable checklist. All updates are via the new Skunkcrafts 3.0 Updater Designed by Avia71 Support forum for the Aerostar 601P _____________________ Aircraft Upgrade Review by Stephen Dutton 19th December 2023 Copyright©2023: X-Plane Reviews Review System Specifications:  Windows - 12th Gen IS1700 Core i7 12700K 12 Core 3.60 GHz CPU - 64bit -32 Gb single 1067 Mhz DDR4 2133 - PNY GeForce RTX 3080 10GB XLR8 - Samsung 970 EVO+ 2TB SSD Software: - Windows 11 Pro - X-Plane 12.08rc3 (This is a Release Candidate review). Plugins: Traffic Global - JustFlight-Traffic (X-Plane.OrgStore) US$52.99 : Global SFD plugin US$30.00 Scenery or Aircraft - KRSW - Southwest Florida International Airport by Aerosoft (X-Plane.OrgStore) - US$24.95 - KDAB - Daytona Beach by Aerosoft / Stairport Sceneries (X-Plane.OrgStore) - US$28.99 (Disclaimer. All images and text in this review are the work and property of X-PlaneReviews, no sharing or copy of the content is allowed without consent from the author as per copyright conditions) All Rights Reserved
  3. NEWS! - Aircraft Updated : B 747-8 Series Anniversary Edition v2.7 by SSG/VMAX This is the third significant update to the Boeing 747-8 Series (Jumbo Jet) in 2023, we can't count the v2.6rc1 (Jan 14th 2023), as there was no list notes, and v2.6 was the official update to X-Plane 12. These consistent updates have kept the SSG B748 Series very fresh and very mature, and X-PlaneReviews reviewer Michael Hayward did an overview review for that X-Plane 12 transition release: Aircraft Update: B 747-8 Series Anniversary Edition X-Plane 12 This v2.7 release is also worth noting as in this update SSG have made the aircraft now functional for Mac Silicon native plugins (M1/M2/M3 computers). If you are a Mac user, then that is very good news. Another nice update is the retirement of the old Dream Engine sound pack, to be replaced here by the more up to date and the more flexible FMOD2 sound system, changes to the general airframe, Cockpit and FMC are also included. The full v2.7 changelog is below. Changelog v2.7 General Airframe - Wing Flex improved - Landing gear improved - Weather map now work in both sides - Terrain Map improved - Flight dynamics improved to meet the nes xp 12.07 and above - Landing gear improved and updated Cockpit - MCDU Pilot , MCDU Copilot and Navigation Copilot PopUps now has a hidden command to open/close. - Copilot ND in Xplane window style - Copilot ND window works now at full screen simulator FMC - Fixed problem loading airways in Coroute - Fixed mode PLN in copilot ND - Fixed Not allow enter not identified waypoints - Fixed previous route loading - Fixed Tracks lines improved - Fixed on more oscillating tracks - ND presentation the same for both NDs - Bank angle improved for turns - Better DME ARCS - Correct landing speeds selection in route - No more jumping speeds in legs page - Correct speeds in missed approach - Change to VNAV from FLCH and vice versa works properly now - Improvement for tracks curves and curves flying - N1 up to 107.9 in takeoff - Improved AT - Better autolanding - TAS and GS now correct - Fixed during takeoff and climb, the current speed doesn’t change - Fixed descent speed was bad computed in some situations sound/FMOD - New FMOD sound package that replaces the old Dream Engine sound. These changes are also related to the included B748F (Freighter) variant as well, note the X-Plane 11 version is also still available in v2.5.1 form, both the XP12 and XP11 links are included in the package. Currently there is a 30% off the full price sale as well, so a nice little Christmas treat could be in order. Developed by SSG and VMAX Support forum for the 7474-8 ____________________________  Yes! the Boeing 747-8 Inter Anniversary Edition X-Plane 12 By Supercritical Simulations Group is available from the X-Plane.Org Store here B 747-8 Series Anniversary Edition Price is US$69.00 (currently on SALE for US$48.30, or 30% off) Officially licensed by the Boeing Corporation. Requirements -Plane 12 or X-Plane 11 - both links included Windows , Mac (including M Processors) and Linux 8 GB+ VRAM Recommended Current version : XP12: 2.7 (December 15th 2023) XP11: 2.5.1 (June 7th 2022) _______________ NEWS! by Stephen Dutton 16th December 2023 Copyright©2023: X-Plane Reviews Disclaimer. All images and text in this review are the work and property of X-PlaneReviews, no sharing or copy of the content is allowed without consent from the author as per copyright conditions) All Right Reserved.
  4. Aircraft Review : Shark UL XP12 by Aerobask It is a versatile nimble aircraft, fast as well! this is the "The Shark" or Aero Shark, which is a conventionally laid out, single engine, low wing ultralight aircraft, light-sport aircraft which seats two in tandem. It was first flown on 19 August 2009 and it is built in both Slovakia and the Czech Republic by Shark.Aero. It has optionally fixed or retractable landing gear. You gotta have to love that tail... The fuselage of the Shark is formed with integral fin seat backs, floors and instrument panel. The fin, set forward so the rudder's trailing edge is above the elevator hinge line, is shaped like sharks dorsal fin, high and strongly swept with a curved leading edge. There is also a small ventral fin. From the fin forward the upper fuselage line rises rapidly to merge into the side hinged, single piece canopy. There is baggage space behind the cockpit. Both of the tandem seats have flight controls. Structurally, it is a mixture of carbon-fibre and a small amount of glass fibre composites, with PVC foam filled aramid honeycomb structures sandwiched between the panels. The wing main spar is a dismountable two-piece carbon fibre beam which joins under the front seat; an auxiliary spar carries the aileron and flap mountings. In plan, the leading edge is elliptical, and there is slight taper on the outer trailing edge where the ailerons are mounted. Single slotted, electrically-operated flaps occupy the rest of the trailing edge. Like the wings, the slightly swept tailplanes are also easily detached for storage or transport. You can see where the wings detach, plus the exposed gear in the bays. "UL" represents the retractable undercarriage and the variable-pitch propeller variant as delivered here. Power is by a Rotax 912ULS flat-four, air and liquid cooled engine of 73.5 kW (98.6 hp), connected to a 3-bladed Duc Hélices variable pitch composite propeller. Go into the roll and the Shark responds nicely, climb, then twist and dive, and the aircraft feels SO well balanced and super-smooth to your inputs, in the States the Shark is known as a light-sport aircraft (LSA) (as yet not yet registered) but has certainly all the correct dynamics and the feel for that "Sport" moniker. As noted the Shark is Fast... Maximum speed is 300 km/h (190 mph, 160 kn) with a cruise speed of 250 km/h (160 mph, 130 kn) economical... it will climb at a 7.4 m/s (1,460 ft/min) max, to a ceiling of 4,100 m (13,500 ft). G-limits are also high at +4/-2 Sounds are quite extensive, even excellent here with a full FMOD environment by sound pro Daniela Rodriguez Careri. It comes with accurate doppler effects, distance attenuation and flyby effects. The headset is simulated as well. The Shark also comes with the "Dynon Skyview" Avionics package. A G1000 sized display that has a lot of Garmin G1000 features but comes here with more functionality in depth. Here are a few images of the display working in the air, we will go through the Skyview details and functions later. From the rear you have basic instruments. Artificial Horizon and Speed/Altitude Tapes. The undercarriage indicator (selector) is also present, fuel selector, throttle and joystick, but no rudder pedals? I know you want to check out the goodies in the Shark, so I head back to Half Moon (KHAF)... correct altitude and speed, I approach RWY 12, but the flaps won't extend... "what the?". I have been warned about this odd foible on the Shark, so I pull up the nose to rub off the speed... Even well low in the white flap line at 72 knts, I still get no reaction from the flaps... it is noted that the flaps won't activate above 65 knts for the first extension, 60 for the second and 55 for the full flap position, so you have to run off a LOT of speed before the flaps become active? So it is a bit of a skill or game to get the speed and flaps in position and ready for landing, it takes time, you go slower, then even slower to rub the speed off.... the gear also has a "Pressure Switch", so it won't retract or extend until you reach or are below a certain speed (62 KIAS (115 km/h)... right finally both are done! You can twist this very agile aircraft on a dime to tightly turn the Shark back to the runway, the handling is so docile, so controlled, you can put the aircraft pretty well anywhere you want to, very easy to trim. Approach is interesting... the Shark is not a throttle feel aircraft, so adjusting the throttle will certainly have an effect on your altitude or descent speed, it is not everything, as you will also need some nose (pitch) angle to help you out as well. This was more apparent in descending from an altitude, say 5,000 ft to 2,000 ft, as you required a lot of down forward pitch, which was required to lose the height no matter the throttle position. Approach speed with full flap is a super-slow 45 knts, your just hanging up there, taking your time to line up the runway perfectly, again the handling here is superb.... love it! Your approach is so low, so slow... you can even do some lawnmowing at the same time, easy peasy. Super-handling... X-Plane's v12.08 new landing wheel inertia, it works wonderfully here, as you are finally in total control of the aircraft and in the landing, you want as you touch around 42 kts (ish), slight nose flare! ... and your down stall speed is a super-low 35 kts. Love it, yes I totally love it. This is the first all new aircraft from Aerobask for quite awhile, and is only for X-Plane 12 (X-Plane v12.08 is required). After spending most of the year upgrading the Aerobask fleet for X-Plane 12.... So it is nice to have something totally new and different to look at and fly. Notably the Aerobask and their quality have already a very high prestige, that upper echelon of that X-Plane users will buy on the name alone, no matter the aircraft they deliver. Aerobask also specialise in composite modern aircraft, and the Shark is a current production aircraft since 2019. So the Shark UL fits the brief perfectly. On the ground the Aerobask quality is certainly very evident. Detail is composite super-smooth, but all done to perfection. Love the Shark gills cooling. Landing gear is perfect in design and genuine detail, trailing link, but with enough give (movement) to make it totally realistic. That fin tail and fine wing are both again super-smooth and really well done, so overall there is absolutely nothing in the exterior or the modeling scale that demands attention of any criticism, the standard today in these aircraft are extremely high, so you sort of expect it at this level.... but it is still nice to admire the skilled work. Bubble canopy is also perfection, lovely glass and reflections, you can almost want to open it with your own hand, it opens sideways to the right, almost glider like. Twin-seat cockpit is tight, almost like a two-man bobsleigh, certainly tight in the rear... Frame with slim cushion seats are excellent, highlighted by the bright red seatbelts... you sorta slip into the aircraft and not get into it, as is so tight... comfy? notable is the rear (few) instruments mounted on the canopy, not the fuselage. There are controls both front and rear, if very basic in the back of throttle, joystick (but no rudder pedals) That very high quality Aerobask interior design and materials are in abundance here. Carbon-fibre weave is highly realistic and in different combinations to match the interior design, seat frames are also Carbon-fibre, molded perfectly to realism. There is a soft vinyl lower/floor material, everything is glorious to the eye and completely authentic. For an Ultra light sport aircraft, the instrumentation is quite considerable. The Dynon SkyView HDX System is the headliner here, and starts with the display being available in both 10” or 7" sizes, in the Aerobask Shark we have the larger 10" version, and it dominates the forward view. The "Skyview Touch" is the main feature of the Aerobask aircraft, the first fully mostly authentic reproduction of this popular Avionic suite for the X-Plane Simulator. Even the "Pop-Up" is set in the Dynon Avionics bezel. The pop-up can be scaled from extremely small, to excessive large, and can moved to any part of your screen. The Skyview Touch is quite complex in functionality, you will need to study the system (on the ground, and don't try to wing it!) as you can easily get lost in the myriad of menus, it took even me a fair while to work it all out, in areas they are the same as the G1000 layout, but a lot of the Dynon system is quite different in selections. The PFD is the usual wide Artificial Horizon, with the standard Speed and Altitude/VS Tapes, Roll, Bank and Pitch markers, lower is a Horizontal Situation Indicator (HSI) with NAV 1/GPS BRG (Backgrounds), Speeds, Baro, Altitude, Wind, HDG (Heading) and CRS (Course) are all shown. First option is that you can switch from a HSI to a G-Meter, which you can reset. There is the CONFIG selection. PITCH allows you to set the climb angle you want, in 10º, 20º, 30º and 45º. SYNVIS will revert the Artificial Horizon to a colour background. SIX-PACK puts just the "Standard Six" instruments on the display, plus you can also have a neutral grey background. It is all exceptionally well done by Aerobask, and very authentic to the real Dynon. Layout options are quite a few. First you have the EMS or Engine Monitoring System, this can be shown in three positions in; left, right and centre. All engine outputs, temperatures and pressures are all shown, HOBBS and electrical outputs are also available. There is the standard Skyview PFD background as well as the wide MAP, or both together, and you can even switch them around. In the CONFIG, the "POPUP" selection is here as well. Other MAP options include; GREEN, SLATE, TOPO and TERRAIN... you can also orientate the map HDG or NORTH UP. Flightplan input to the Skyview is via the Garmin GNS 430, this includes saved flightplans, building flightplans and procedures, it basically mirrors the GNS. Another big feature is the use of Navigraph charts in the Skyview. Obviously you need a Navigraph account, and to register the account before use (each time you fly actually?). In MAP, you then select the airport you want to access, this will give you the basic (X-Plane) airport data... ... then in pressing CHARTS, you will then access the Navigraph database for airport charts, then selecting the chart you need. When you have selected a chart, the system goes looking, then loads in the chart you want. CHARTS are available in day or night options (night darker is far easier to read)... ... and charts can be FILL, FIT, ZOOM (in or out) or just scroll (or moved) around the screen for the size you want. Hardware Dynon control panels are also provided. This is the "Rotary Controls" for HDG/TRK, ALT & BARO (top-left), and the secondary "Knob Control Panel" (top-right). These two panels are set above the Skyview Touch. The AP (Autopilot) can also accessed directly in the Skyview Touch, also available are FD (Flight Director), ROLL, PITCH and LEVEL selections. The Dynon Skyview Touch is all so very, very good, and a totally though system to use. There is a video made by Aerobask listing the features of the Skyview Touch avionics system... well worth looking through, and getting the general idea of all the functions. Other digital instruments include; Flybox PR1-P Propeller Regulator, Blaze EMS-2 3 1/8” universal engine monitor color display and a Flybox Oblò backup instrument. A ATR833-II 80mm radio (COM) produced by f.u.n.k.e. (manual provided) and an Aerospace Logic Chrono CO200 OAI (manual provided) are set lower, and note the row of Circuit Breakers (fuses). In the Shark the circuit breakers act also as the switches for the EFIS, Fuel Pump, Pitot Heat, and the three external lighting of Position (Nav), Strobe and nose Landing lights. Side panels are basic, Fuel Tank switch and Throttle left, and Joystick and a PS Engineering PMA4000 Audio Panel right. Notable in the cockpit is the detail, like the excellent canopy window, beautifully methodically createdl, it opens (slides) as well! Menu The Shark Menu is accessed via the banner "Plugins" menu "Shark UL Options Show/Hide". Secondary selections are via a "Hotspot" above the Shark Logo top right of the instrument panel, the Menus is also accessible via the "AviTab" tablet on the right side of the canopy. The Menu is the standard Aerobask menu layout, with four tabs; Ground, Options, Sounds and About. Ground: the first tab "Ground" gives you your FOB (Fuel on Board), and you can select kgs/Lbs and Gal in either of the two tanks, there is the option to "Balance" the fuel in both tanks, lower is your Livery selection. Right panel covers a few basic static elements (pitot cover and a single cone) and the operation of the rear pilot in; Always Visible, Installed Outside only or Not Installed. There are two very nicely modeled (meaning realistic) Female pilots, but there are no other options to swap positions or a choice of a Male pilot. Options: Covers the MAIN, in Instrument Pop-ups, Reflections, Navigraph Charts (subscription and switching to either Day or Night charts) and Breaker Reliability. All main instruments options are covered, for the SKYVIEW, CO200K, MD302, PR1P, EMS2 and ATR883 Almost all options cover the instruments PopUp options, and temperature/pressure options. Sounds: This tab covers all your sound options in eight sliders, Internal, External, Pilots, Radios Environ and User Interface. There is the global options to Enable Sounds and Enable Speech. About: Last tab is the "Credits" for the Aerobask Developer team, the aircraft version No.# is shown in the banner. The AviTab Tablet as we have shown is also available (plugin required), it is the standard AviTab layout and tools, plus the built in Menu. Just press the right side button to hide. Lighting Lighting is pretty basic. Just the instrument lights (no adjustment) in the cockpit, and external Position (Nav), strobe and a single landing light in the nose. At night the instrument reflections are very strong, stronger when darker, very authentic though. Liveries There are twelve liveries, all very colourful and several are shark themed including "Jaws". There is a base white for the painters. ____________________ Summary This is an all new aircraft release from Aerobask... "The Shark" or Aero Shark, which is a conventionally laid out, single engine, low wing ultralight aircraft, light-sport aircraft which seats two in tandem, and is built in both Slovakia and the Czech Republic by Shark.Aero. A typical Aerobask modern composite design, the Shark is a beautifully handling aircraft with the authentic first representation of the Dynon "Skyview Touch" avionics package, a sort of mega Garmin G1000 styled display. Other represented instruments are the Flybox PR1-P Propeller Regulator, Blaze EMS-2 3 1/8”, ATR833-II 80mm radio, Aerospace Logic Chrono CO200 OAI and a very nice Flybox Oblò backup instrument . Focus here is on that "Skyview Touch", this is a comprehensive version with full authentic details that replicates the real Dynon package, there is also built in Navigraph charts, full hard point Dynon switchgear (two), and the side canopy AviTab with built in menus, the four tab menu is also available via clickpoints. Exterior modeling is to perfection, and the Interior is perfectly designed with full carbon-composites and materials. It looks like a Shark and flies swimmingly with purpose (pun intended), it's a seriously nice aircraft, easy to fly and you will soon find your love to the great handling and the ease of use, tricky to note is the authentic use of the landing gear and flaps. The Shark is also X-Plane 12 only and requires the latest v12.08 X-Plane version to fly. Overall a seriously nice package that Aerobask do so well, and yes a great quality and value investment for hours of enjoyable flying with all the mod-cons.... brilliant! __________________ Yes! the Shark UL XP12 by Aerobask is NOW available from the X-Plane.Org Store here : Shark UL XP12 by Aerobask Price is US$29.95 Requirements X-Plane 12 (XP12.08 minimum - will not work with 12.07 or earlier. Not for XP11) Windows, Mac (even native M1, M2 Macs) or Linux 8 GB+ VRAM recommended Current version: 12.01r1 (December 12th 2023) ________________ Installation and documents: download for the Shark UL is 529Mb and the aircraft is deposited in the "General Aviation" X-Plane folder. Full Installation is 1.36Gb Authorisation is required, and a restart. Updates are via Skunkcraft Updater. AviTab Plugin is required for this aircraft Documents supplied are: Quick-Doc ATR833.pdf Quick-Doc CO200.pdf README - XP12 aircraft installation.pdf Shark UL - Checklist Normal.pdf Shark UL Flight Manual.pdf There are a huge amount of Documentation provided here, not only for the Shark UL including: performance charts, reference guides, avionics and a printable checklist. All updates are via the new Skunkcrafts 3.0 Updater Designed by Aerobask Support forum for the Shark UL _____________________ Aircraft Review by Stephen Dutton 15th December 2023 Copyright©2023: X-Plane Reviews Review System Specifications:  Windows - 12th Gen IS1700 Core i7 12700K 12 Core 3.60 GHz CPU - 64bit -32 Gb single 1067 Mhz DDR4 2133 - PNY GeForce RTX 3080 10GB XLR8 - Samsung 970 EVO+ 2TB SSD Software: - Windows 11 Pro - X-Plane 12.08rc3 (This is a Release Candidate review). Plugins: Traffic Global - JustFlight-Traffic (X-Plane.OrgStore) US$52.99 : Global SFD plugin US$30.00 Scenery or Aircraft - KHAF - Half Moon Bay by Rising Dawn Studios (X-Plane.OrgStore) - US$19.00 (Disclaimer. All images and text in this review are the work and property of X-PlaneReviews, no sharing or copy of the content is allowed without consent from the author as per copyright conditions) All Rights Reserved
  5. Thanks for the comment CJC We need users perspectives on how they absorb Simulation. What is they like and don't... battles thoughout the year can wear you down, and I admit that, and it came though in this BtheS edition, but I'm only relaying the journey, overall I am far more confident in the New Year 24 for X-Plane. My feelings are that if you do have a rugged year, then that should be communicated as much as a positive year, honesty is important to get things fixed and shine a light on issues, overall Laminar did a magficent job, but they can get sidetracked sometimes. This is a very critical time for X-Plane...
  6. NEWS! - Aircraft Released : SR-71-'Test-Bed' Project by VSKYLABS The Lockheed SR-71 "Blackbird" is a retired long-range, high-altitude, Mach 3+ strategic reconnaissance aircraft developed and manufactured by the American aerospace company Lockheed Corporation. The SR-71 has several nicknames, including "Blackbird" and "Habu" This is not the first "Blackbird" project for the X-Plane Simulator, as there was a default "Blackbird" for X-Plane 10/11, but discontinued in X-Plane 12. Some elements of the vSkyLabs aircraft do come from the actual SR-71 default aircraft, but obviously a lot, as absolutely this SR-71 is built from the ground up. This is a far more in depth version than that original but definitive version. Note this is an X-Plane 12 only aircraft. Fully VR compatible / comprehensive FMOD sounds / Free future updates to existing customers / Highly responsive support and knowledge base for the SR-71 aircraft. VSKYLABS SR-71 Flight Dynamic Model: Highly detailed, comprehensive SR-71 performance and handling characteristics. The simulation follows the SR-71A performance charts and climbing/cruise charts with high accuracy (speeds, power settings, time-of-climb, distance and a LOT more!). Project version v1.0 includes flight model version 'VSL-SR-71-Block-1'. This will keep on updated and tuned side by side with flight testings and X-Plane 12 future evolution. 'BLOCK-2' is expected to be released about a week after project version v1.0 will be released. To know which update block you are flying, see the included update log. Authentic SR-71 flight and handling characteristics are being simulated: Chines and delta wings lift, CG movement through flight and fuel loading, high AOA tendencies of the SR-71, takeoff and landing handling and performance and more. Authentic climb schedule. Supersonic drag profiles. Engines and Afterburner: Advanced Engines flight dynamics simulation ('VSL-SR-71-Block-1' in project version v1.0). Ram-Jet aspects of the SR-71 propulsion system are being simulated: comes into practice at high supersonic speeds and power settings (thrust, fuel consumption and so forth). Throttles: simulated 'cutoff' and 'burner' regimes, to allow 'conventional' operation where fully aft is 'cut off'. Chemical Ignition (TEB) System: Simulated authentically, including TEB counters when the throttles are advanced from 'cutoff' to 'idle' and from full dry to afterburner regime. Afterburner ignition is not possible when the TEB counter hits 'zero'. Same for ground startup. TEB ignition visualization (the green flash): simulated. Exhaust Nozzle & Ejector: Variable-are iris-type afterburner nozzles are visualized, including ENP (Exhaust Nozzle Position) indicators. External Starters: Two AG-330 starter units are simulated, visualized. Air Inlet System: Spikes: Spikes algorithm is simulated, authentically, for both automatic and manual modes (spikes ratio due mach, altitude etc..). Spikes animation included. Spikes restart switches are functioning. Engine unstart: Infrastructure for future implementation exists. Due to the 'unexpected' triggering of real engine unstart in real-life conditions (such as spikes failure and other reasons), this feature is currently partially disabled. You can unstart the engines when manually positioning the spikes in the wrong position during high-supersonic flight. But it will not occur spontaneously. This is still a WIP element. Aft Bypass: Aft bypass doors are animated according to the actual conditions. Fuel system: Authentic Fuel-tanks system layout: simulated authentically, including realistic shift in CG due fuel consumption in the various phases of flight. Fuel feeding and sequencing: In current version, all fuel management is done automatically (automatic transfer to maintain CG within limits while it shifts). Manual, full capacity fuel system simulation is scheduled to be implemented in the future. Air Refueling System: simulated, including tanker visualization and authentic SR-71 air-refueling radio recording (contributed by Mr. BC Thomas, high Time SR-71 Pilot with 1,217 hrs and 18 min). Nitrogen tanks pressurization: Simulated authentically. Fuel fumes will exceed flash-point and will be ignited in the tanks unless the inert-gas-pressurization cycle was established (by completing an air refueling session up to full-tanks). Electrical system: Version v1.0 includes an authentic yet simplified electrical system. This is scheduled to grow in the future. Hydraulic system: Version v1.0 includes an authentic yet simplified hydraulic system. This is scheduled to grow in the future. Landing Gear System: Comprehensive landing gear system. Manual Gear Release Handle: currently not functional in v1.0. Might change until release of v1.0. Will be implemented in the future. Landing gears position lights, handle, warning light and Audible warning: Simulated authentically. Nose-wheel Steering System: Simulated authentically, including engagement lights. Works as in the real SR-71, with a toggle push button located on the stick. 1st push engages the system, 2nd push disconnects it. Require authentic taxi and takeoff nose-wheel steering practices. Wheel Brake System: Simulated authentically with ANTI-SKID/Wet-Dry switch. In Wet mode, brake anti-skid sensitivity is increased. Drag Chute System: Simulated and physically-accurate, including lights etc.. (version v1.0 includes default drag chute visualization. This will be replaced in the future with an authentic one). Primary Flight Controls: Control stick throws: Simulated authentically (both visually and physically). Elevon Control System: Simulated authentically (inboard, outboard, mixer). Rudder Control System: Simulated, authentically. Surface Limiter System: Simulated authentically. Including the SURF-LIMITER T-handle operations and indication light. Authentic throws and conditions (speed dependent). Lateral (roll) control stick travel and rudder displacement are restricted by the surface limiter system. Pitch, Roll and Yaw trim: Simulated authentically, including operation and indication. SAS Control: Simulated authentically, with high accuracy in all flight regimes. Autopilot: Simulated, not the authentic SR-71 interface and modes. It includes APP/NAV/HDG/ATL/VVI modes. Automatic High Angle of Attack Warning Systems - APW shaker and pusher: Simulated authentically via the various conditions of operations and flight envelope regimes. Two separate modes are simulated authentically: Shaker and Shaker+Pusher. Aural AOA indication and warning system: Did not exist in the real SR-71, however, it was implemented in the VSKYLABS SR-71-TB aircraft, to allow better AOA monitoring during flight (which is needed when flying without 'sensing' then real aircraft and real control stick forces..g forces and so forth). Flight & Navigation Instruments: Fully functional LR CDU 739 along with a fully functional EFIS/MAP display: covering 2*com, 2*nav, 2*adf, transponder. Windshield: Deicing System: Simulated. Lighting Equipment: Exterior lighting: Simulated. Interior lighting: Simulated. Environmental Control Systems: Pressurization schedules: Current version this is simulated but with automatic mode only. Manual control will be implemented in the future. Life Support Systems: Oxygen System: Current version this is simulated but with automatic mode only. Manual control will be implemented in the future. Pressure suite support systems: Not simulated. Listed for future implementation. Emergency Warning Equipment: Master Warning System: All active-systems warning, caution and condition lights indications are operational. Indicators and warning lights test button: Simulated. This being a vSkyLabs aircraft, Then the vSkylab philosophy is that you are purchasing an ongoing project, so any aircraft you purchase is not fully completed or is usually not completed to 100%, that is the deal you sign up for to get access to the aircraft, and all the development is free and ongoing throughout the X-Plane 12 version. These projects are under constant development: the development road-map is including flight model refinements, enhanced systems depth, additional liveries and other improvements. So this aircraft is noted as an "Early Access" project. The SR-71 was designed for flight at over Mach 3 with a flight crew of two in tandem cockpits, with the pilot in the forward cockpit and the reconnaissance systems officer operating the surveillance systems and equipment from the rear cockpit, and directing navigation on the mission flight path. The SR-71 was designed to minimize its radar cross-section, an early attempt at stealth design. Finished aircraft were painted a dark blue, almost black, to increase the emission of internal heat and to act as camouflage against the night sky. The dark color led to the aircraft's nickname "Blackbird". Images are courtesy of vSkyLabs (X-Plane 12 version) Design by VSKYLABS Support forum for the SR-71 TB ___________________________ The SR-71-TB by VSkyLabs Flying Lab Project is NOW available! from the X-Plane.Org Store here : SR-71-TB Project by VSKYLABS Your Price: US$37.00 Requirements X-Plane 12 (not for XP11) Windows, Mac or Linux 8GB VRAM Minimum Download Size: 424 MB Current Version : 1.0 (December 8th 2023) ___________________________ News by Stephen Dutton' 9th December 2023 Copyright©2023: X-Plane Reviews (Disclaimer. All images and text in this review are the work and property of X-PlaneReviews, no sharing or copy of the content is allowed without consent from the author as per copyright conditions) All Rights Reserved
  7. Yeah look I really loved this, it is certainly not a one off wonder, you get back in there and give it another practise moon landing, highly addictive!
  8. Yeah it's still on, but some bigger new releases came up, if quiet before Christmas on releases, it might get up there
  9. Yes I've already booked a cruise for next year! But reviewers go far deeper than the average punter for longer, it was like working with a mangy cat.
  10. That is why I protested getting in more coders, X-Plane has grown beyond itself and a small intimate group, like bringing in Jim Keir on the ATC, it made a huge difference because it brought new resources and fresh thinking to the Simulator, the transition problems of Vulkan/Metal were huge, and it cost Laminar a lot of time in fixing it, then everything else got shifted along and X-Plane 12 suffered, so we suffered, a year okay, but an important year in maintaining users to the Simulator.
  11. Behind the Screen : November 2023 Looking back through the "Behind the Screen" edition of 2023. One repeatable thing came up, I was always rallying against Laminar Research. Angry is not the right word, neither is enraged... frustrated maybe, but you can't really get antagonistic to a body of people that just has it's own course to run. I suppose that if Laminar Research did react to all the naysayers moaning including mine, that nothing would actually get done. But a frustrating year it has been (and it's not over yet). Looking back I will agree that Laminar got through a load of major issues, the timetable when followed, does actually cover most of the biggest issues at hand. There was also a few major turning points of the year, 12.04b1, late in February and certainly the 12.06 release in August. But in my over the decade with X-Plane, it was one of the hardest years I could remember, yes generally life has been hard in 2023, but along the way X-Plane 12 became a grind. Don't get me wrong here. X-Plane 12 is levels above X-Plane 11, going back there it feels flat and boring. So no doubt the sheer vibrancy of the upgraded Simulator is a something of a marvel. But why is it so hard to use? Having progressed in a timeline from X-Plane 9 to X-Plane 11, it was a nice progression of new features and overall a better simulator. Yes there was those bumps in the road, but it is nothing at all like X-Plane 12. The new version numbering system will probably bring in a reset of X-Plane 12, in v12.1.0, due on the anniversary of the release of the X-Plane 12 Simulator 17th December 2022. This version release should be the final roundup of the outstanding issues, those Minecraft square clouds, real weather improvements, bloom effects, cloud shadows, Contrast Adaptive Sharpening (CAS), Anti-Aliasing improvements, but looking at that list a full year on, it is actually quite long? After that going into 2024, certainly the Simulator will be finally in a stable form, with further actions in more of new (if small features) and upgraded avionics. So are we there finally, a stable and mature platform to do our flying on. Maybe, or I hope so. But for me in many ways it has been a wasted year has 2023, a long waiting period for things to get better, and more waiting until it did, but even at this late December date, X-Plane 12 is not quite, even a itsy bitsy still not quite there is it. Yes again we are again waiting for v12.1.0 to get the Simulator into a proper form and shape, a year on from it's release. We are always aware the X-Plane is always a work in progress, I accept that as part of the journey of being in Simulation or on any computer based game, but there is a difference between progress, and the basics not actually not working, and at the core of my rants, this has been the problem or my quandary with a certain Laminar Research. For years I couldn't land an aircraft, yes I am a Simulation content reviewer and I can't land aircraft? I practised, and I got very close, but over the years it all just felt just wrong? In X-Plane 12 I found the landings had just got even worse, in fact it was like landing on ice (it felt like taking off on ice as well). The complex conclusion was that maybe, just maybe I was "Shit" at it... honestly I have never flown a real aircraft in my life, but then again, that is why I jumped at this Simulation lark, to have a go, and hopefully to get good at it. After a decade or more of practising I though I was actually good at it, but too many of my landings were still laughable, with screaming tyres and weaving all over the runway... the real pilots don't do that (a few in training do), but overall they usually make a really good fist of the landing. Yes I blamed myself, thought that my skills were actually not good enough. Then something happened. Messers Austin Meyer, grand poobah of X-Plane was having a conversation with Jan, an airline pilot, who flies for Lufthansa, and noted that in X-Plane the aircraft when landing would slam the nose down... now anyone that has flown X-Plane as long as yours truly, I have witnessed what I call the "Extreme Gravity Yank", when at a certain height (no matter how light you are on the approach and in the flare), the "Hand of X-Plane God" would grab your aircraft and drag it quickly down and bang it into the runway, crashing it down, leaving you to control a wayward aircraft. It's not realistic, and have rallied against it for years and years, also it is "Bl**dy Obvious, to every one except Austin Meyer's and anyone at Laminar that it did this abnormal behaviour. Anyways he has fixed it, fixed the inertia of the landings. I put myself in a very nice little GA, did a clean takeoff, and went into a landing pattern, then came around to do a perfect landing, PERFECT, a totally sweet landing, on the centreline with clean braking... and have done so in flights ever since v12.08 was released. The point is, this is a basic action in aviation, in fact the most important action at the point of a landing, and Laminar has "only" just fixed it, JUST FIXED IT. You get my point, for years and years I have been thinking my landings (and takeoffs) were "totally Shit", and it wasn't me. And this comes back to the point of the X-Plane 12 release. The basics should have been resolved first, the focus should have been on the minute, not the big ticket items, and the shit weather and lighting should have been top of the list in being fixed. It has been a total roller-coaster year, admittedly the second half was far better than the first, but it has cost X-Plane a lot of momentum, mostly in delaying developer projects and transitions to the new X-Plane 12 platform. Am I happy with X-Plane 12? In some parts it is absolutely brilliant, but in others I'm not. The aircraft feel is not the same, but fine line jiggly in areas, and I am consistently messing around with my settings in trying to get a decent baseline. Go back to X-Plane 11 and that baseline is easily there, so it is not me, it is X-Plane 12. Lighting has been my major bugbear all year, with extremely dark cockpit screenshots, even external images sometimes need a very healthy 20% to 30% brightness. My job is to show you how things have changed or the details of the systems and instrumentation. But in many cases this year, the images coming out of X-Plane 12 are just not at all workable. And Laminar have taken away all our earlier lighting sliders that could make a difference, in fact you basically have no control of your graphics at all in X-Plane today, it's a sort of Supnic (slap) to keep your hands off. Yes there are 3rd party tools that you can use to change X-Plane, but the premise is that it should be in there anyway. Please don't tell me to change the Nvida settings, because it doesn't work, makes your monitor brighter or more colourful, but not the screenshots coming out of the simulator. Playing with X-Plane's lighting is a load of tricks to get the required images, and I'm very good at it, but I can only twist the lighting so far. Hopefully that the v12.1.0 release will finally give us more options with the lighting. Don't mention the rain, and I loved the mention of not making it look like a Star Wars "Hyperspace Jump"... that one had me rolling on the floor. Annoyingly looking at the images coming out of X-Plane 12 as they are all quite sensational, so real world realistic, they in many cases have taken my breath away... the flipside of X-Plane 12's brilliance. Laminar has also finally admitted that the DSF scenery is now almost 20 years old? twenty years, that is 2003, two years after the Twin Towers fell, and they have replaced them with another one since then. First they are going to fix the bugs in DSF and what can we do but put then put more stuff into DSF? but those DSFs are still decades old, its like piling shit on top of shit to make it look better. But Laminar have finally admitted that also looking at what comes after DSF, and finally reckoned they have reached a point where they have ideas of stuff we'd like to do that goes beyond the current scenery system, well "yay Bl**dy hey". Like the transition from OpenGL to Vulkan/Metal, changing the DSF's it's a(nother) big core change to the Simulator, so it is not going to happen soon, but at least it is finally up there on the "to-do" list, but is it high enough on the list that says "priority", again this is Laminar Research and they have a tendency to not focus on the fundamentals, they also admitted to spending more time in chasing the Professional Training Market, getting rid of stutters and giving you the required smooth Simulation. So will that mean that again the more important issues will go on the backburner while trying to satisfy a very minority market. Yes the Pro market does have great accolades in selling a Flight Simulator, a sort of "Stamp of Approval" on the certification of the software, but it's also a bit of a double-standard when the weather is not at all realistic and when you couldn't land a plane realistically, you see the point, without the basics right (which to be honest was always Laminar's forte), you are never going to catch the attention of the big boys. The problem is with Laminar Research is they mean well, they really do, and have always punched well above their weight. But sometimes a bit more focus on the basics would help not only themselves, but for us the users as well. I never wanted to berate them, not every month on month, certainly when like most they are "really trying their level best" to deliver a sensational Simulator, one that everyone can afford and use. But their priorities need to be more focused, not so widely scatterbrained, I mean am I really interested in Austin's N844X, or a replacement propeller for his Lancair Evolution. Someone noted I should lighten up on this, go with the flow more, but after this 2023 and all the painful struggles throughout the year, I'm not laughing at all. Sadly it comes out here in my thoughts on each month and that became the tone of the year. So could 2024 become a reset for X-Plane 12. If the v12.1.0 does deliver it does have the potential to create a new starting point, and that totally depends on Laminar getting the weather elements finally right, not just the clouds. It's certainly come a long way in six months, but the wind elements are still there, snow with the Northern Winter is now important as well. For me I am going to take this attitude over the (short) break. I usually service the computers, and do my annual year file and backup... but more so this year, as I'm going to totally clean out X-Plane, throw away the current version, and reload in a totally fresh copy, even dumping my years old keyboard and joystick prefs, a hard one as they are time-consuming to reset. But I want a totally vanilla clean setup to start 2024, totally fresh, get rid of all the junk and hubris that build up in the files, you would be surprised on how much waste you accumulate over a year, then sing at the top of my voice "Auld Lang Syne" and let 2023 be long forgotten. As usual there will be no December "Behind the Screen" 2023 issue, but our full yearly round up of the year 2023 review is to be published on 22nd December 2023, so watch out for that. Stephen Dutton 5th December 2023 Copyright©2023 X-Plane Reviews
  12. Interesting is how he uses the trim button on the F-104 stick, your always looking for that perfect balance.
  13. NEWS! - Airport Upgraded : KMSY - New Orleans International Airport XP12 VerticalSim has upgraded their KMSY - New Orleans International Airport to X-Plane 12. Released for X-Plane 11 in 2020, this New Orleans International Airport XP11 is also still available here for US$14.95. But this newly refurbished KMSY is X-Plane 12 only, with the expected X-Plane 12 effects and weather features. Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport is an international airport under Class B airspace in Kenner, Jefferson Parish, Louisiana, United States. It is owned by the city of New Orleans and is 11 miles (18 km) west of downtown New Orleans. A small portion of Runway 11/29 is in unincorporated St. Charles Parish. Armstrong International is the primary commercial airport for the New Orleans metropolitan area and southeast Louisiana. Features Some VFR landmarks 4k UHD Texturing with PBR 2023 Airport Layout Animated Car Traffic (via Groundtraffic plugin) Color Graded Satellite Imagery SAM Jetways X-Plane native weathermaps The free SAM plugin is required for this airport to work. You can get it here SAM3 Suite. Images are courtesy of VerticalSim Price is set below US$15!... cheap as, for a very good scenery. __________________ Yes!... KMSY - New Orleans International Airport XP12 by VerticalSim is now Available from the X-Plane.Org Store here : KMSY - New Orleans International Airport XP12 Price is US$14.95 Requirements X-Plane 12 Windows, Mac or Linux 8 GB VRAM Minimum - 12 GB+ VRAM Recommended Download Size: 1.8 GB Version 1.0 (December 1st 2023) ___________________________ News by Stephen Dutton 2nd December 2023 Copyright©2023: X-Plane Reviews (Disclaimer. All images and text in this review are the work and property of X-PlaneReviews, no sharing or copy of the content is allowed without consent from the author as per copyright conditions) All Rights Reserved
  14. Aircraft Review : F-104 FXP Starfighter by Colimata This is the first operational fighter aircraft to fly a sustained twice the speed of sound. It is of course the Lockheed F-104 "Starfighter", or otherwise known as a "Missile with a man in it". The F-104 is a pure machine built for pure speed, it looks fast... Supersonic fast, just a long pointy fuselage, with those small straight, mid-mounted, trapezoidal wings, and a high stabilator (fully moving horizontal stabilizer) which was mounted atop the fin to reduce inertia coupling, it was the ultimate interceptor aircraft. Of course NASA loved it, the USAF not so much. But an iconic aircraft it still was. The F-104 is an American single-engine, supersonic air superiority fighter which was extensively deployed as a fighter-bomber during the Cold War. Created as a day fighter by Lockheed as one of the "Century Series" of fighter aircraft for the United States Air Force (USAF), it was developed into an all-weather multi-role aircraft in the early 1960s and was produced by several other nations, seeing widespread service outside the United States than within. Clarence L. "Kelly" Johnson, vice president of engineering and research at Lockheed's Skunk Works, visited USAF air bases across South Korea in November 1951 to speak with fighter pilots about what they wanted and needed in a fighter aircraft. At the time, the American pilots were confronting the MiG-15 with North American F-86 Sabres, and many felt that the MiGs were superior to the larger and more complex American fighters. The pilots requested a small and simple aircraft with excellent performance, especially high-speed and high-altitude capabilities.[4] Johnson started the design of such an aircraft upon his return to the United States. In March 1952, his team was assembled; they studied over 100 aircraft configurations, ranging from small designs at just 8,000 lb (3,600 kg), to large ones up to 50,000 lb (23,000 kg). To achieve the desired performance, Lockheed chose a small and simple aircraft, weighing in at 12,000 lb (5,400 kg) with a single powerful engine. The engine chosen was the new General Electric J79 turbojet, an engine of dramatically improved performance in comparison with contemporary designs. Colimata is a well known X-Plane developer of considerable skills. His main claim to fame has been the extraordinary Concorde FXP project, complex but truly original to the most famous airliner ever built. Colimata is not immune to fast military jets either, as his earlier projects were the FA18-F Super Hornet and the MiG-29 Fulcrum. This F-104 however is all new, and available only for X-Plane 12. First the F-104 Starfighter by Colimata comes in three different variants, the FXP G, the FXP S and the FXP 21C (21st century). You can see what variant you are flying by the menu notice in the X-Plane Banner. ‘G’ F-104G was the most-produced version of the F-104 family, a multi-role fighter-bomber with a total of 1,127 aircraft built. They were manufactured by Lockheed, as well as under license by Canadair and a consortium of European companies that included Messerschmitt/MBB, Fiat, Fokker, and SABCA. The type featured a strengthened fuselage, wing, and empennage structures; the larger vertical fin with fully powered rudder as used on the two-seat versions; fully powered brakes, a new anti-skid system, and larger tires; revised flaps for improved combat maneuvering; and a larger braking chute. Upgraded avionics included the Autonetics NASARR F15A-41B radar with air-to-air, ground-mapping, contour-mapping, and terrain-avoidance modes, as well as the Litton LN-3 inertial navigation system (the first on a production fighter). Here the "G" is the most authentic and the base version of the F-104 package. "S" F-104S was upgraded for the interception role, adding the NASARR R-21G/H radar with moving-target indicator and continuous-wave illuminator for semi-active radar homing missiles (initially the AIM-7 Sparrow), two additional wing and two underbelly hardpoints (increasing the total to nine), the more powerful J79-GE-19 engine, and added were two additional ventral fins to increase stability. The M61 cannon was sacrificed to make room for the missile avionics in the interceptor version, but was retained for the fighter-bomber variant. Typically two Sparrow and two (and sometimes four or six) Sidewinder missiles were carried on all the hardpoints except the central (underbelly), or up to seven 750 lb (340 kg) bombs (normally two to four 500–750 lb [230–340 kg] bombs). The F-104S was cleared for a higher maximum takeoff weight, allowing it to carry up to 7,500 lb (3,400 kg) of stores; other Starfighters had a maximum external load of 4,000 lb (1,800 kg). Its combat radius was up to 775 mi (1,247 km) with four external fuel tanks "21C" or 21st Century. It is the most modern variant which can be seen immediately from the cockpit instruments with the digital displays. It doesn't exist obviously, as there is no real "21C" but F-104's do come with digital instruments as shown in the video. Debatable here is there should be a YF-104A variant, this is the NASA No.818, and this aircraft was flown for 19 years as a flying test bed and a chase plane. The Colimata F-104 comes in that original skin metal only livery. The airframe was all-metal, primarily duralumin with some stainless steel and titanium as part of the structure. The fuselage was approximately two and a half times as long as the airplane's wingspan. The wings were centered on the horizontal reference plane, or along the longitudinal centerline of the fuselage, and were located substantially farther aft on the fuselage than most contemporary designs. The aft fuselage was elevated from the horizontal reference plane, resulting a "lifted" tail, and the nose was "drooped". This caused the aircraft to fly nose up, helping to minimize drag. As a result, the pitot tube, air inlet scoops, and engine thrust line were all canted slightly from centerline of the fuselage. The Colimata F-104 is beautifully done, it glows in the X-Plane 12 sunshine, the light bouncing off the metal realistic skin. You can feel the "Skunk Works" talent here, in the way they created and crafted these formidable machines, metallurgy at it's finest. The panels and rivet patterns are beautifully crafted, and of course those razor sharp wings... notable this is the "S" variant. The wing design was extremely thin, with a thickness-to-chord ratio of only 3.36% and an aspect ratio of 2.45. The wing's leading edges were so thin (.016 in; 0.41 mm) that they were a hazard to ground crews. Hence, protective guards were installed on them during maintenance. The thinness of the wings required the fuel tanks and landing gear to be placed within the fuselage, and the hydraulic cylinders driving the ailerons were limited to 1-inch (25 mm) thickness to fit. You can see the different types of metal here to absorb the engine output heat, and the built in fuselage Speedbrake doors Flaps are "Barn Door" deep, and note the extremely large aileron for supersonic control and manoeuvrability. Notable is the Boundary Layer Control System (BLCS) at the rear side of the wings right above the flaps. Compressed air is taken from the compressor of the engine and injected in the airflow right above the flaps. This improves lift by reducing the probability of turbulent airflow above the flaps. This way reasonable landing speeds were achieved. Because the vertical fin was only slightly shorter than the length of each wing and nearly as aerodynamically effective, it could act as a wing-on-rudder application, rolling the aircraft in the opposite direction of rudder input. To offset this effect, the wings were canted downward at a 10° negative-dihedral (anhedral) angle. This downward canting also improved roll control during high-G maneuvers, common in air-to-air combat. Under the fuselage are both the central ventral fin, and this being the "S", the twin empennage structures. The maw of the jetpipe exhaust is excellent, not only externally, but deep internally as well in finite detail. The stabilator is also razor thin, and has a very wide tilt angle, all set in a T-Tail configuration. The undercarriage is a simple three wheel setup, basically very basic in a system to fold up into the tight fuselage. Extremely well executed here by Colimata with metal hydraulic piping the highlight, and all of the internal bay detail is a feast for the eyes, links and joints are also perfectly created, and note the taxiway lights mounted internally on the outer bay doors. Single nose wheel is again simple, with the single landing light on the front strut, again the internal bay detail is excellent, notice with the way the twin doors frame and clamp the strut when closed. Glass is excellent as well... a deep dark green tint, shows off the thickness of the glass, and reflections are perfect. The canopy opens to the left side, and you can see the mottled glass detail... the frame is extraordinary in it's perfect detailing. Externally there is a well developed "Cold War" style pilot, he is not animated, but looks authentic. Cockpit This is the ultimate "Cold War" warrior, the next generation up from the Second World War fighters. The detail is very black, but worn, highly realistic and authentic. Colimata has done a really great workmanship in getting the details right, right down to the worn text, that needs a second glance to read it. Bit of trivia... the original F-104 had a Stanley C-1 Ejection Seat, and this seat ejected downwards through the floor at 500ft, this was to clear the high T-Tail for a safe ejection from the aircraft... later F-104s used the Martin Baker Q7 seat, this seat was now powerful enough to clear that troublesome tail. Here it is the later Q7. The ejector seat works! so don't pull the hoop unless you want to vacate the aircraft, oh and get rid of the canopy first as well.. The simple stick has no operational buttons or switches, but can be hidden via "hotspot" on the base. The three different G, S and 21C instrument panels are all quite different with their layouts. It is best to study them all and then select the one you like, as each have a very different role. I'm going to stay with the original "G" layout. It is a complicated panel layout, and you would need a little study before serious use. The manual provided "Quickstart", is in my mind a little bit too under detailed for the complexity here, you need the areas to be broken down and explained, this is only a "Quickstart" so a better manual as noted might follow, it is needed. Dials and gauges are beautifully created and reflective, very realistic. Centre seven dials cover (anti-clockwise) AirSpeed, Angle of Attack, Vertical Speed (V/S), Artificial Ball Horizon, Turn and Bank rate, a Position & Homing Indicator (sort of Heading Indicator) and Altitude. Left is a G-Meter, Radio Altimeter, and right are the engine RPM, Temperature, Oil Pressure, Fuel Flow and Nozzle Position, the Whisky Compass is upper left glareshield... sticking out far right is a intricate clock/chronometer. Lower panel is the Engine Start and Landing/Taxi lights far left, then the Weapons panel, landing gear switch is here as well. Central is the huge RADAR system, that covers both AIR to AIR mode and AIR to GROUND mode. Right lower panel is the Cabin Pressure, and internal and external fuel gauges. Oxygen is far right. Side panels are again quite different between the variants. On the "G" the layout is smaller and less detailed, highlight is the lovely white stubby throttle lever, the Flap position indicator is set behind, but you can also hide the throttle if you want to. Left side has radio, fuel switches, Radar position lever (nice) and Stability Control. Right side has Oxygen Regulator, IFF (Identification Friend or Foe), IN Inertial/flightplan (note here, this panel tends to move around, on the 21C it is lower left Instrument panel) and ECM. There are various types of displays between the G and S/21C. Here there is no flightplan screen on the G, but on the other variants. The G has a "Range Timer", the S the fully interactive flightplan panel. The autopilot is very basic, in a set the aircraft and "HOLD" the situation in Altitude and Mach, you can TURN left or right via the lower switch. But it is in the extreme detailing that you get here, something simple like opening the canopy is a marvel to watch, the catches are all animated and reassuring that the canopy will be safely locked down at Mach 2, they click and clank as well... it's all beautifully done, and more importantly VR (Virtual Reality) ready, with the goggles on, you will be immersed in a Cold War environment like no other. Menu The menu GUI is accessed on the X-Plane banner Menu under the aircraft title, the CHECKLIST window is here as well. There are Eight tabs to select on the menu; MAIN, SETTINGS, ROUTE LOADING, EQUIPMENT, WEAPONS, FUEL, DOORS & GROUND and STATUS. If you have Colimata;s Concorde they are all quite familiar in design and use. MAIN tab is a welcome screen. SETTINGS: Covers PRO Mode. This mode changes the aircraft from simple (aerodynamics and systems) to the PRO mode, where you get access to everything, but be aware the already difficult F-104 is far more harder to fly and use. SOUND, Includes Engine Volume internal and external, cockpit fans, G-Suit sounds and Oxygen mask sounds, RADAR, HD Resolution and Simple mode or heavy shadows, MORE includes, Simple Air-refueling, Cockpit lamp glow and Intake doors... here you can have the optional variable (moving) intake doors on the "S" and "21C" variants. Before we go any further. You will find that most systems here on the Colimata F-104 are very X-Plane default based, so if you know how X-Plane systems work, then you will easily understand how to set up and use the F-104. ROUTE LOADING: Here is a Flightplan Loading tool. flightplans are stored in the X-Plane "Output/FMS plans" folder and can be accessed and loaded via this tab. Obviously they have to saved in the .fms format. EQUIPMENT: There are four options on the "Equipment" tab... Selecting the Air Re-Fuel Probe, Radar Warn Receiver.. which is located top right instrument panel, Chaff Flare Dispensers... which are both located on each side of the rear exhaust pipe, and the Rocket Motor! WEAPONS: Weapons are selected via the X-Plane "Flight/Weight&Balance/Weapons menu, standard X-Plane default settings. The list is huge at a mix of 22 armaments and fuel tanks for the 10 stations on the aircraft. Overload and you get a RED weight indication "Caution Very Heavy Aircraft". FUEL: If you add on Fuel tanks in the "Weapons" menu. Then the tank(s) selected will appear in the Flight/Weight,Balance & Fuel Menu to add in more fuel onto the aircraft, again watch the weight as the F-104 is very easily overloaded. A point to make is that if you "Drop" the both wing-tip tanks then you get the "Stubby" wing version of the F-104 Lower menu the page notes your RANGE, in High altitude flight, Mix Altitude flight and Low Altitude flight... Also if your route is loaded, it will note the distance available in NM (Nautical Miles). Also noted if your AIR REFUEL is switched on or not. DOORS & GROUND: This menu gives you options on the ground. You can reveal the RCA AN/ASG-14T1 ranging radar. Put a very nice ladder on the right side of the aircraft, Open/Close the Canopy. There are also four bays you can access... lower right Electronics bay, the left lower Cannon Bay of which is the 20 mm (0.79 in) M61 Vulcan auto-cannon, Top forward is the Avionics bay, and behind it is the Ammunition bay... lower left rear is the RAT (Ram Air Turbine). Centre selections include, a load of flags, pins covers and chocks. There are far too many to even count! Note the lovely wing edge covers and authentic engine inlet covers. Lower D&S menu covers two static items in vehicles. A military Heavy Duty Tanker and GPU (Ground Power Unit) STATUS: The final menu tab is the "Status" of the aircraft. This is a one look view of the total status of the F-104. Included is Fuel and your current Range, System status in Oxygen, Hydraulics, Pneumatics, Fuel (system), Landing Gear, Elevator (Trim Position), Aircraft Weight and required Approach, Final and Touchdown speeds. CHECKLIST As noted also on the menu bar is the F-104 Checklist tool The first page is a "walkaround" diagram, it's not animated by set views, but just a guide around the aircraft. The menu window is moveable and scaleable around your screen. There are thirteen checklists from Pre-Flight to (engine) Shutdown. Then four "Emergency" pages and five "Custom Content" pages for your own use. Navigation is via the two PREVIOUS and NEXT buttons. Altogether it is a very comprehensive and detailed menu, certainly very well done by Colimata... Easy to use and has loads of current required data avalable. _____________________ Flying the Lockheed F-104 Starfighter The Startup sequence will not find a battery switch inside the cockpit. Electric energy is only available as soon as the GPU is connected externally. Complete the cockpit checks, then make sure that the Fuel Shutoff switch is in the ON position. Engage a starter switch. Switch 1 on uneven days, Switch 2 on even days. The engine will start spooling up. Now click on the lower right side of the throttle to bring it from OFF to IDLE position. With this the engine will continue its spool up and the dials start to revolve. This is a very "Ground Crew" aircraft start, you almost want to stick your hand up out of the cockpit and twirl your hand. Engine start up sounds are seriously "Amazing", first the startup compressor, then that familiar whine out of the J79 turbojet, it fills the air in the cockpit (always have the canopy open), the starter switches will go off automatically, when the engine is above 40%, then engage the Generators GEN1 and GEN2. You don't want to close that canopy yet, but to hear the noise, absorb your surroundings. Let of the brakes and a slight throttle and your rolling.. You soak up the feeling, this iconic jet aircraft. Now quickly it is also time to get down to business, and you pull down the canopy... ... suddenly your immersed in another world, a tightly contained space, a cold-war scenario, and the F-104 feels of what it is, a Skunk Works project to go very fast. You need a very long and wide runway to takeoff, those petit fine wings don't give off much lift, so you need a lot of air around them to make them work. Hold the brakes, then put up the throttle to full thrust, yes you will need everything you have for the initial push... You get a dragons ROAR! out of the rear, and when you let the brakes go, the F-104 bounces with the forces, it moves, but slowly at first then gradually gains speed, you need a lot of runway to get enough to get around 200 knts, there is a marker you can adjust for your rotate moment, tracking needs full concentration in keeping the Starfighter tight and straight to the lift point. Even then the lift is slow, worse you have to have a very steady firm hand to keep the F-104 stiff and clean, if not the nose will bounce... Immediately you clean up the flaps, more clean lift is now required, speed as well, more lift... then your climbing out. Gear up next, and the undercarriage all folds into the fuselage and gives you a very nice shiny clean underside, the gear animations are extremely well done by Colimata, very professional. Shredded of it's earthly bounds, the Starfighter will now seriously climb, so you tone the throttle back a bit, rate of climb here is 48,000 ft/min (240 m/s) Initially... fast, really fast, needed as you can fly as high as 73,000 ft (22,000 m), almost in space, SR71 territory (84,000ft). Some points here. The F-104 bounces around a lot, not wind mind you, but just nervy. The nose jiggle is very disconcerting. You can tone this down a little via the X-Plane settings to dull the controls out a lot, then to perfect the trim and it can really help, problem is? that flying like this even for a short time is very tiring, you are working consistently hard all the time in just flying the aircraft. It does get better with familiarity, but the F-104 is not an easy aircraft to fly. The Autopilot is of only a minor help, or relief, so your workload is high in here. A trick is to use the AOA ‘Angles Of Attack’ equivalent gauge. It does not show the exact angles, but a scale that informs you about how near to the maximum AoA the aircraft currently is... the so trick is staying within the boundaries. There is also the APC "Automatic Pitch Control" system which provides additional safety. If AoA value limits are exceeded too far it will even ‘kick’ the stick forward to get back to safe levels, but not when landing gear is down. There was a special version of the F-104 was that ‘NF-104’. It was equipped with a rocket motor in addition to the jet engine. In the 1960s the NF-104 broke many records and it was used in the training for the X-15. The motor can be switched on and off, and the thrust can be set between 50 % and 100 %. The rocket provides thrust for 90 seconds. The rocket panel is only visible if the "Rocket Motor" is selected, situated on the left side. Since air is super thin at high altitudes, the conventional flight controls will loose authority. For this an RCS ‘Reaction Control System’ can be activated. It provides controllability in very thin air. There are both controls for the actual rocket motor, and the RCS system. Re-heat the J79 turbojet, then flick the switch and your head slams back like in the "Right Stuff", and your climbing like.... well "Hell, hang on" actually... dials are twirling and you really can't make any sense of them, you are just along for the ride! Passing through 65,000ft and that air is now extremely thin, and your controls don't respond as they should... the F-104 is EXTREMELY hard to fly up here, slight movements you will are all you need, but if you lose it, then there is no coming back... and you will simply spiral away to your death. It took a few high-altitude flights to get the feel of it all right and to get the use of the RCS system, exhilarating, certainly. Worse is that at these extreme altitudes the jet engine will switch off, and it is required to be restarted during the reentry. If the jet engine nozzle stays open, close it via the emergency engine nozzle handle before the restart attempt. This is not a Air-superiority fighterjet, an agile, lightly armed aircraft and ready to eliminate any challenge over control of the airspace. Even turning is an effort for the F-104, you bank, but you will still take a very wide circumference to go to your new heading. The word "Interceptor", says it all, and in reality it is all the F104 can really do, go fast, go high and "Intercept!" First you climb as high as you need. There is a marker on the Artificial Horizon to get the 15º climb angle perfect, then up you go, almost to 4000fpm... ... now at a high altitude, you can let the F-104 loose, on goes the burner again and your soon pushing a mach, then m.1.5. The aircraft is a handful to keep in a straight bullet line, turning... only for the faint-hearted. I can see and feel why it was called the "Widowmaker". Yes the Starfighter is bullet, but more X-15 than fighter jet. The Autopilot takes ages to settle down on a course and altitude, but in time will hold the aircraft with a "hands off the stick" relief, turning is tricky with the turning knob "left-Right", again it works, but difficult to put the aircraft on a straight heading again, so you readjust with ENGAGE off, then when at a set altitude and heading, then (Re)ENGAGE the Autopilot... and hopefully it will HOLD either the speed or the altitude, you can't have both. The F-104 ships with a sophisticated RADAR system covering AIR to AIR mode and AIR to GROUND mode, in the AIR to GROUND mode can require quite a few computer system resources. It is therefore possible to switch it from HD ‘High Definition’ to a lower definition. Furthermore the interpretation of the AG ‘Air to Ground’ image can be complex. Therefore the system comes with a "Standard-Simple mode" and a "Complex" mode. In "Complex" mode we see the same landscape from above but with ‘RADAR shadows’. If the RADAR beam is blocked by an obstacle, everything behind is in its ‘RADAR shadow’ and will then be displayed black. In AIR to AIR mode or AA mode, we can track and lock on to other aircraft. The available ranges are 20 nm, 40 nm and 80 nm. The RADAR beam sweeps 45° on both sides in the ‘G’ variant and 60° in the ‘S’ and ‘21C’ variants. To lock an enemy aircraft the target line can be moved left or right. When the target line is aligned with the target aircraft, press the ‘lock’ button or use the custom command. When the aircraft is locked (on target) the symbology on the display changes. We then see a circle that represents the distance to the target. The smaller the circle diameter the closer we are to the target. It shows direction and altitude to the enemy jet relative to our aircraft. The system is very good, but needs time to study and work it all out. To be honest I only had the "Quick" guide for information, and you really need a detailed depth of information to use it. Nightlighting Very night fighter... that is the feeling inside the "Starfighter" cockpit, there are a lot of instrument adjustments, but the knobs are spread around both sides of the instruments. Three separate knobs covers the instrument lighting; INTERIOR INSTRUMENT, INTERIOR CONSOLE (sides) and INTERIOR FLOOD. The lighting is the instrument backlighting and two spot lights each side of the pilot. All set at full BRT and it is all a bit overwhelming in the brightness... So the trick is to tone it all down, even below the halfway marker, then it becomes all "Very Nice". Externally you have some very (very) nice rotating beacon's top and lower, and Navigation lights, that can be set to FLASH or STEADY. As noted there are two landing lights on the inner gear doors and a single nose taxi light. Landing is probably one of the trickiest treat of them all. The wings here are relatively small, and therefore they need substantial speed to keep you airborne. The ‘BLC’ Boundary Layer Control’ system above the flaps is of great help and the engine is very powerful in case we need to get out of critical situations. So you need to engage the burner to prevent sinking or even stalling, or for a worst case scenario, for a go-around At the lower speed, the flaps and with the gear lowered the roll rate is also significantly reduced, in other words the stick and rudder responses are dull, laggy. It keeps you on your toes to get the speed right at around 200 knts - 190 kts, that's very fast, with not much control response. If your clean and straight, then all you want to do is plant the aircraft, no groundeffect or lift to help you here, it is a carrier shot in reverse. Touched down should be around 150 knts. Even before the nose hits the ground, you release the "Chute", no reverser thrust here to slow you down, but the "Parachute" is extremely effective, you don't (or even dare) touch the brakes. I recommend to set a key command to deploy or lose the chute, your too busy to look down in the cockpit for the hard to find white "DRAG CHUTE" handle. At taxi speed, you let go of the "chute", then flip the catch and open up the canopy... now you can "Breath". We have to be very clear here, that the Starfighter F-104 has some very, very unsual flying characteristics, this is not a forgiving aircraft, rewarding yes, but totally unforgiving... to fly the aircraft well, it would need a lot of commitment and focus, as it is though all its different flight phases, the one aircraft that changes personalities consistently, it is your job to understand each one of them and master the differences, for the novice, not really, even the usual pro's will find it a challenge, but a major repect to those with the "Right Stuff". In the release I had (early) there was only three liveries; The Metal default, a German Luftwaffe and an Italian Air Force. More liveries will be available for download at no additional cost. __________________________ Summary The first operational fighter aircraft to fly a sustained twice the speed of sound. It is of course the Lockheed F-104 "Starfighter", or otherwise known as a "Missile with a man in it". The F-104 is an American single-engine, supersonic air superiority fighter which was extensively deployed as a fighter-bomber during the Cold War. Created as a day fighter by Lockheed as one of the "Century Series" of fighter aircraft for the United States Air Force (USAF), later it was also a NASA test aircraft. Loved more by international Airforces than the American ones. It was created by the famous Lockheed "Skunk Works", and in performance and design it has a the same particular traits as the later SR-71, just to go exceedingly fast. F-104 Starfighter by Colimata comes in three different variants, the FXP G, the FXP S and the FXP 21C (21st century). Known for his excellent Concorde FXP project, Colimata is also not immune to fast military jets either, as his earlier projects were the FA18-F Super Hornet and the MiG-29 Fulcrum. This F-104 however is all new, and only available for X-Plane 12. The F-104 is sensationally designed and developed here, in reality X-Plane, and X-Plane 12 gives this aircraft one of the best positions in Simulation, the top and the best, a very high accolade. It's top notch stuff, the best you can invest in. The quality and detail is excellent, nothing is missed here, that is from the shiny metal skin to the worn but highly detailed cockpit and instruments, super detailed 4k textures and complex landing gear and brake chute. Features are as long as your arm, with an extensive menu. With panels that can open up (Electronics bay, gun bay, avionics bay, radar dome and canopy), ladder, full tags, wing covers and chocks, featured GPU and Fuel trucks, and an NF-104 Rocket and Reaction Control System. There are extensive weapons, with highly replicated "Cold War" era weapon and radar systems, the later 21c has modern glass instruments and avionics. It is extremely tricky to fly, as was the original "Widowmaker", but that is a major part of the attraction to this sort of Simulation, so what you will put in, is what you get out of the aircraft, it is demanding, but highly rewarding as well as it brings out the best of your "Right Stuff", those generation of pilot's that pushed the extreme boundaries of speed and space. This Starfighter aircraft allows you to experience that era and fly something very unique, an icon, a classic... the best of it's time. __________________________ Yes! - the F-104 FXP Starfighter by Colimata is NOW available from the X-Plane.Org Store here : F-104 FXP Starfighter Price is : US$45.00 Requirements -Plane 12 Only Windows, Mac and Linux 8 GB+ VRAM Download Size: 941 MB Versions 1.01 - December 1st 2023 Developed by Colimata Support forum the F-104 FXP Installation Installation of F-104 FXP Starfighter XP12 is done via a download of 825 Mb... With a total installation size of 1.17Gb. There is one basic Manual pdf (45 pages) Review System Specifications Windows - 12th Gen IS1700 Core i7 12700K 12 Core 3.60 GHz CPU - 64bit -32 Gb single 1067 Mhz DDR4 2133 - PNY GeForce RTX 3080 10GB XLR8 - Samsung 970 EVO+ 2TB SSD Software: - Windows 11 Pro - X-Plane 12.08b3 (This is a Beta review). Plugins: Traffic Global - JustFlight-Traffic (X-Plane.OrgStore) US$52.99 : Global SFD plugin US$30.00 Scenery or Aircraft - KTCM - McChord AFB - Seattle - Boeing Country 10.5 by Tom Curtis (Sorry not now available) ___________________________ Classic Aircraft Review by Stephen Dutton 1st December 2023 Copyright©2023: X-Plane Reviews (Disclaimer. All images and text in this review are the work and property of X-PlaneReviews, no sharing or copy of the content is allowed without consent from the author as per copyright conditions) All Rights Reserved
  15. Experimental Vehicle Review : LLTV - Lunar Landing Training Vehicle by NHAdrian It was a moment of inertia. A pause in the air that could have changed history as we know it. It is 6th May 1968 at Houston’s Ellington Air Force Base (AFB) in Texas. As the strange web framed vehicle was now suddenly frozen at 200ft above the ground with the sudden loss of helium pressure, that then caused the depletion of the hydrogen peroxide that was used for the reserve attitude thrusters. The pilot only had one option, "to get the hell out of there", he did so by ejecting upwards as the machine twirled downwards into the ground and violently exploded beneath him, he landed safely by parachute with only a few aches to his back and a bit tongue from the intense jerk upwards... in two hours he was back at his desk at the Houston Space Centre, doing paperwork. The pilot in question here was Neil Alden Armstrong. The same person that commanded the Apollo 11 mission, during which he became the first man to set foot on the moon (20th July 1969). That infamous moment was captured on film, observing it closely, you saw the nerves of steel to defeat the jaws of death, just like Armstrong had done a few times before. In Korea, as he was making a low bombing run at 350 mph (560 km/h) when 6 feet (1.8 m) of his wing was torn off after it collided with a cable that was strung across the hills as a booby trap. He planned to eject over the water and await rescue by Navy helicopters, but his parachute was blown back over land. A jeep driven by a roommate from the flight school picked him up. Then again in a Boeing B-29 Superfortress, which was to air-drop a Douglas D-558-2 Skyrocket. Climbing to 30,000 feet (9 km), the number-four engine stopped and the propeller began windmilling (rotating freely) in the airstream, then the propeller disintegrated. Pieces of it damaged the number-three engine and hit the number-two engine. Butchart and Armstrong were forced to shut down the damaged number-three engine, along also with the number-one engine, due to the torque it created. They then made a slow, circling descent from 30,000 ft (9 km) using only the number-two engine, and landed safely. Then the most dangerous moment of all in orbit in Gemini 8. While out of contact with the ground, the docked spacecraft began to roll, and Armstrong attempted to correct this with the Gemini's Orbit Attitude and Maneuvering System (OAMS). Following the earlier advice of Mission Control, they undocked, but the roll increased dramatically until they were turning rotations about once per second, indicating a problem with Gemini's attitude control. Armstrong engaged the Reentry Control System (RCS) and turned off the OAMS. Mission rules dictated that once this system was turned on, the spacecraft had to reenter at the next possible opportunity. Armstrong was a cat that had 10 lives, so they sent him to the moon, were he saved the long landing in the LEM (Lunar Excursion Module) and made history, which brings us to our weird looking machine in this review. The Bell Aerosystems Lunar Landing Research Vehicle LLTV (nicknamed the "Flying Bedstead") was a Project Apollo era program to build a simulator for the Moon landings. But lets clear something up first. There was five of these vehicles built, the first two were the LLRV or "Research Vehicle". Then later three more were commissioned and called LLTV or "Training Vehicle", they are in design almost identical, but the LLTV's were slightly improved and the forward Styrofoam cockpit enclosure (to simulate the LEM's cockpit) had also the roof removed, to stop an excessive yawing force. Secondly they also had a new mode introduced, called "Lunar Simulation Mode"... of which we will see later. Built of aluminum alloy trusses, the LLRVs (and LLTV) were powered by a General Electric CF700-2V turbofan engine with a thrust of 4,200 lbf (19 kN), mounted vertically in a gimbal. The engine lifted the vehicle to the test altitude of 500ft, and was then throttled back to support five-sixths of the vehicle's weight, simulating the reduced gravity of the Moon. Two hydrogen peroxide lift rockets with thrust that could be varied from 100 to 500 lbf (440 to 2,200 N) handled the vehicle's rate of descent and horizontal movement. Sixteen smaller hydrogen peroxide thrusters, mounted in pairs, gave the pilot control in pitch, yaw and roll. The LLTV is an ungainly insect like machine. Really well designed and produced here by NHAdrian, a developer known for his quirky but very interesting machines, a flying AirCar anybody? The LLRV evolved out of the Bell X-14 (Bell Type 68) experimental VTOL aircraft, but it had problems with ground effects. The X-14 had the reverse effects of helicopters, in that when close to ground, a helicopter needs less power to stay aloft, were as the X-14 needed exactly the opposite in a huge amount of downward thrust. The LLRVs were built by Bell Aerosystems and were used by the FRC (Flight Research Centre) now known as the NASA Armstrong Flight Research Center, at Edwards Air Force Base, California, to study these VTOL dynamics. Helicopters were the obvious choice to simulate Lunar Control Characteristics. And astronauts at the time who were very familiar with helicopters, pushed heavily for them to be used as the LEM training vehicles. But Dick Day the simulations expert at the FRC, pushed heavily for the LLRV to become the better (or correct) vehicle to do the LEM simulations. The person put in charge of the conversion was no other person than Neil Armstrong (the reason he was not on the Apollo 1 fire committee) and was and in the early part of the LLTV "Design Engineering Inspection" that was the selection committee for the program. He quickly deduced that to build a fully modified LEM Trainer, which he called "prohibitively time consuming and expensive" was not the answer, and noted that the characteristics of the LLRV was not at all that different in physical size, and had the same control rocket geometry from the Lunar Lander. When the earlier VTOL program had been completed, the two LLRV's were shipped to Houston in December (12th) 1966, and three new vehicles in trainers with modifications were ordered by NASA, these were the LLTVs, all five machines were used in Lunar training. The earlier LLRV's were reassigned as LLTV A1 and LLTV A2, the new LLTV's were designated LLTV B1, B2 and B3. Neil Armstrong's strong views against Helicopters was against the current normal thinking. This was because Armstrong was noted as a "Engineer Pilot", and not a "Training Pilot", so basically Helicopter pilots were flying Lunar Simulations on Earth, were as Neil Armstrong was studying and flying Lunar Simulations on the Moon. It was a critical assignment that produced an Historic moment. He of course later had that vexatious moment in LLTV A1 in the final 100 ft of descent going into land when his controls had suddenly degraded. By a rule Apollo Commanders had twenty-two flights to certify them for the mission, but for backup commanders in the later stages of the program, these numbers of flights were reduced to maybe a dozen. The LLTV's design is beyond simple, a frame holds the CF700-2V and surrounding it are the four downward facing HP thrusters (earlier LLRV had only two), then the clusters of HP directional thrusters are positioned on the outer frame, it is all a very spacecraft LEM like in design. Tanks hold the Jet-A1 fuel and the twin globes of Hydrogen Peroxide (HP) are outer centre, rear is balance weights and the large equipment/avionics pack. The whole design has been intricately recreated for your flying pleasure, everything is perfectly done here, like noted, very simple, but intricate at the same time to get it all perfectly authentic... and yes you can spend a lot of time just looking at all of the design and on how it all works, this is one clever aspect of a Simulator, as you have almost the real thing on view for your inspection. Can this be called a cockpit? sort of. The original LLRV just had the pilot hanging out on the front on the frame, in the LLTV version is was boxed in to recreate the feeling of the inside of the LEM. The light metal frame construction and riveting is totally excellent, and note the nice touch of the Apollo mission patches... but there is an important one missing? An oversight or just a small trivia question by the developer? The cockpit layout is very familiar if you are also familiar with the LEM's controls. The hand controls both sides, and the instrument box right. Left side here are two levers, the "Lift Engine Control Lever", and the secondary "Lift Thrusters Control Lever" known as the "T-Stick". Top left panel is the CB Control Panel, with Circuit Breakers (fuses) and system switches. Note the rear COM Radio with 25khz and 8.33 khz modes and fuel cock lower. The "Main Control Panel" covers Battery A/B and Generator A/B switches, Altitude Controller over-ride, Lunar Simulation wind compensation switch, Helium Isolation valve, Altitude Thrusters operations mode, Inverter A/B switches, Pitch/Roll AHRS source, Artificial Horizon source and Altitude controller rate sensitivity adjustment knobs for; Pitch, Roll and Yaw. Right side is the "Main Instrument Panel", from top; Engine Fire annunciator and test button, HD quantity indicator, Annunciator Panel, Lateral/Forward velocity indicator, lift rockets chamber pressure, Helium Pressure, analog stop-watch/button cycle, Artificial Horizon, Radio Altimeter and V/S (vertical Speed) indicator, Thrust-to-Weight ratio indicator LSM mode, EGT (Exhaust Gas Temperature gauge), Oil Pressure, Analog Altimeter, Analog Variometer, N1 Indicator, Jet fuel quantity and aft Jet fuel quantity. On the right is the actual LEM panel for comparison, and the main flying instruments in layout are almost identical. The Annunciator panel has 4x4 block of warnings and failures. Note the "LUNAR MODE" selection. Bottom right is the "Right Control Panel". It includes; "Attitude Control mode switches", DC Volts and AC Volts, "Source Switch A/B and finally the same famous "Ground Contact" light. Right hand joystick is fully animated in forward-back and left/right movements, as is the well done NASA pilot in his arm movements... let us call him "Neil". You can hide "Neil" by pressing the seat base, but be careful, it is very easy to mix up the hotspot of the "Ejection Seat", and just disappear. If you move the slider on the pilot's helmet... it will push down the visor, also then go into "Sunglasses" mode, in dimming the view, honestly I'm not sure about this while flying, as you need as much a clear view as possible, and an option to turn it off, but the idea is very clever. _____________ Installation and Settings In X-Plane, you will find the LLTV in the "VTOL" section at the bottom of the "Flight Configuration" page. There are no liveries (laughs) LLTV Authorization is standard with a key, then a restart is required. Control settings are for all the "Control Response" (Pitch,Roll and Yaw) sliders to be at the minimum setting, and at least "5 Flight Models" per frame, it is highly recommended to have at least a 30 frames or more capacity, if not it will struggle to simulate. The LLTV fuel and weights are setup via the X-Plane "Weight, Balance & Fuel" Page, the HP is top, and the Jet Fuel is set lower, note the correct CoG (Centre of Gravity). If you have (or I recommend) a 3-Axis Joystick... then move your Yaw axis to the Joystick X-Axis from the rudder pedals for an authentic feel of the machine, the LEM did not have rudder pedals as both pilots stood up side by side together. A final tip is to set the "Lunar Simulation Mode" to a Toggle or "On/Off" switch, I used the hat on my joystick, the custom command is available and as all the usable "Custom Commands" are noted in the manual. This action will reduce the distraction of the switch between the different modes, and keep your hands on the controls. ____________________ Flying the Lunar Landing Training Vehicle I found that before every flight you have to set your fuel quantity, it resets back to zero if you don't, in other times also top up the H202 tanks, the LLTV guzzles fuel like nothing else, so this is always your first action. The fuel cock is down under the COM Radio, and this needs to be horizontal for fuel flow, then it is the simple need just to flick up the Ignition switch, then the START ENG switch, the system does the rest of the startup sequence, when done it will settle down around 20% RPM and EGT around 450º The startup whine and thrust from the CF700-2V is very good, then becomes a roar if you add in a bit of throttle, plus there is the puffs and blasts of Hydrogen Peroxide all around the vehicle, and you haven't done anything yet? Increasing the throttle increases the noise and the activity from the thrusters as they intensely fire off (really well done) the HP, and slowly your off the ground... and your first target is just to hover. Honestly it's not that hard, just like flying a drone in every aspect... up/down... hover. Then your just glad to lower the LLTV back onto the ground... safety. Confidence restored, "Lets try that again". This time I hovered far higher, the limits are 500 ft and 2 minutes of fuel, and the clock is ticking. Again it was easy to climb and hold, twist the throttle grip and turn easily in the yaw, left or right... then front or back with a slight dip in each direction... "easy peasy" Trickier is sideways... any slip has to be carefully coordinated, and keeping the vehicle almost upright. Push too far in angle or speed and you will easily lose the LLTV, and there is no coming back, except for an explosive crash on the ground. A note that there is an "Ejection" to do an "Armstrong" and get the "hell out of there". There are two modes, the first is really the "Drone" mode were the LLTV flies basically just like a drone. Second flying mode is called "Lunar Simulation Mode" that is activated on the joystick. The difference between them is that with the first (drone) mode the CF700-2V is locked in it's cradle, so the thrust is completely downwards. In Lunar Simulation Mode (LSM)" the engine is now loose on a Gimbal to still produce the balance thrust, but the vehicle angle can now change, however the engine (thrust) stays relative to the ground to simulate the Moon's gravity (1.625 m/s2, about 16.6% to that on Earth's surface or 0.166 ɡ), to replicate the same propulsion system on the LEM. Several other actions also happen when you initiate LSM, first you change levers to the T-Stick, this lever now controls the downward thrusters and in giving you only control over them (disengages the Jet Engine) and lifts the rockets thrust between 20% and 100% power range. Note... there has been an update, v1.01 now has the animation working that moves "Neil's" hand from the throttle to the T-Stick, and the T-Stick movements are now animated as well... The LSM system won't work unless you are at 500ft (or slightly more), then you flick the switch to change the modes... Then the "Luna Mode" light is illuminated to show you are in the active mode. The transition between modes is seemless, initially you can't tell the difference, but adjust the T-Stick and you are quickly aware of the more heavier thrust at your disposal, with both the Jet engine and thrusters now producing lift, actually altitude control is far more easier, you as you have significantly now more control over the machine, but there is more and more lag in reactions the closer you get to the ground. Yaw and slip is still the same, so be careful... but the flying of the "Bedstead" was far easier than I had imagined, you would love to stay here in this controlled environment all day, but your now guzzling fuel at a ferocious rate, so it is time to descend and do a nice controlled landing. The amount of thrust power is excellent, and in reality you do feel what piloting the LEM would actually be like, I was amazing on the amount of power that was available to you, even on the moon! The trick here of course is to learn an actual moon LEM sequence landing, moving forward and picking your landing spot, controlling the flow of the descent and the angle of approach to a hover position and then a "Contact". It would take a fair bit of practice and familiarity with the LLTV to get that all right, but the adrenalin rush would be worth it, remember the old "Lunar Lander" game, well this is far more better and in 3d, you also have the same limited amount of fuel as well! Armstrong noted on his return from the moon. "Eagle (the Lunar Module) flew very much like the Lunar Landing Training Vehicle which I had flown more than 30 times at Ellington Air Force Base near the Space Center. I had made from 50 to 60 landings in the trainer, and the final trajectory I flew to the landing was very much like those flown in practice. That, of course, gave me a good deal of confidence — a comfortable familiarity" Considering the traumatic events on 6th May 1968, then the LLRV and the later LLTV, were actually very reliable over thousands of test flights. Actually only two crashed, the LLTV A1 (Armstrong) and Test pilot Stuart Present ejected again safely from crashing LLTV-2, 29th January 1971, the surviving rest are listed below LLRV-2 (LLRV NASA 951) is on display at the Air Force Flight Test Museum at Edwards Air Force Base. It was lent to the museum by NASA in 2016. LLTV-3 (LLTV NASA 952) is on display at the Johnson Space Center. A Replica of NASA 952 is in a partially complete state in the aircraft boneyard at the Yanks Air Museum. __________________ Summary So how do you replicate landing on the Moon when you have never actually been there? This was the problem facing NASA in 1966. To build a full trainer of the Lunar Excursion Module, or LEM, that was the lunar descent vehicle, was considered then be too expensive and even impractical. Then came the idea to convert two VTOL experimental aircraft at the FRC (Flight Research Centre) now known as the NASA Armstrong Flight Research Center, at Edwards Air Force Base, California. These were LLRVs, later renamed LLTVs (A1/A2) and to build three more for training lunar astronauts in the skills of using the lunar lander in B1/B2 and B3. The LLTV vehicle is reproduced here by NHAdrian, and brilliantly good it is. This is not a helicopter, more drone in skills, but the "LUNAR MODE" is replicated in absolute realism, in allowing you to practise Lunar Landings on Earth, or to practise this significant skill set, and actually get the feel of what flying the LEM was really like. Sounds and the feel of the machine are simply excellent here (it's very loud), the rocket pulses perfectly synchronised, there are no extras or liveries, but a very well detained machine. The LLTV is also fully VR (Virtual Reality) ready, for an even more authentic immersion. With the update v1.01, the T-Stick in "Lunar Mode" is now also animated as well as the throttle control... It is all very clever, very X-Plane as well, and the modeling detail and systems recreated here are exceptional, it is also very Lunar Lander, the 1979 video game, you get addicted to it, and try over and over again to achieve your goal... of landing on the Moon. Highly recommended, and great authentic fun. __________________________ Yes! - the LLTV - Lunar Landing Training Vehicle by NHAdrian is NOW available from the X-Plane.Org Store here : LLTV - Lunar Landing Training Vehicle Price is US$19.95 Requirements X-Plane 12 Windows, Mac (using Rosetta) or Linux 4GB VRAM Minimum - 8GB+ VRAM Recommended Download Size: 331 MB Current Version : 1.0 (December 1st 2023) Important note for MAC OS X users: please read this article about enabling Rosetta: https://www.x-plane.com/kb/using-x-plane-11-addons-with-x-plane-12-on-mac-systems/ Designed by NHAdrian - Support forum for the LLTV by NHAdrian Installation Installation of LLTV is done via a download of 296 Mb... With a total installation size of 566Mb into the Aircraft Folder. Authorization is required, then a full X-Plane restart. As noted above there is a requirement to use Rosetta on the Mac System There is one basic highly detailed Manual pdf (29 pages) with an install, set up, description of the LLTV, plus full checklists. The menu design is to replicate an official NASA document. Review System Specifications Windows - 12th Gen IS1700 Core i7 12700K 12 Core 3.60 GHz CPU - 64bit -32 Gb single 1067 Mhz DDR4 2133 - PNY GeForce RTX 3080 10GB XLR8 - Samsung 970 EVO+ 2TB SSD Software: - Windows 11 Pro - X-Plane 12.08b3 (This is a Beta review). Plugins: Traffic Global - JustFlight-Traffic (X-Plane.OrgStore) US$52.99 : Global SFD plugin US$30.00 Scenery or Aircraft - KEFD - Ellington Field - X-Plane default - Free ___________________________ News by Stephen Dutton 1st December 2023 Copyright©2023: X-Plane Reviews (Disclaimer. All images and text in this review are the work and property of X-PlaneReviews, no sharing or copy of the content is allowed without consent from the author as per copyright conditions) All Rights Reserved
  16. NEWS! - Aircraft Updated : Epic E1000 G1000 Edition by Aerobask to X-Plane 12 Aerobask have updated their excellent Epic E1000 G1000 Edition to X-Plane 12. It is easy to get confused here. The E1000 had a very significant update with the addition of Laminar Research's G1000 avionics back in February 2019, and a lot of the features and dynamics were also updated to match the considerable changes in v11.30. but that was still as an X-Plane 11 aircraft. (This aircraft is still available for X-Plane 11 as part of this package). X-PlaneReviews full XP11 review is here: Aircraft Review : Epic E1000 - G1000 Edition by Aerobask This new release is only for the X-Plane 12 compatibility and is only an update, with the addition here of X-Plane 12 features and effects. Obviously it will make a huge difference to the aircraft, a substantial one in fact in lifting the aircraft into a higher quality category. Including... Completely reworked and re-scaled exterior and interior model New 4K PBR textures 8 stunning liveries out of the box Color-matching interior based on livery White (for painters) and Lo-res liveries available through Aerobask website Smooth and VR-friendly manipulators The price is on sale as well... US34.95 is reduced to US$22.72, or a saving of $12.23(35%), so a winner all round with not only a better higher quality aircraft, but at a seriously lower (sale) price... so be quick. The Epic E1000 is an American single-engine, six-seat, turboprop light aircraft developed by Epic Aircraft of Bend, Oregon. The project's aim is that the E1000 will be the fastest single-engine civil aircraft at its time of introduction. A development of the kit-built Epic LT, the E1000 aircraft features a cantilever low-wing, a 6.5 psi pressurized cabin with an airstair door just ahead of the rear seats, retractable tricycle landing gear and a single 1,825 hp (1,361 kW) Pratt & Whitney Canada PT6-67A turboprop aircraft engine, that is de-rated to 1,200 hp (895 kW) engine in a tractor configuration. The aircraft is predominantly made from carbon fiber and its 43 ft (13.1 m) span wing mounted flaps and winglets. To update go to your X-Plane.OrgStore account, and download the "Aerobask_Epic_E1000G_XP12" version, once updated, the E1000 can then be updated by the Skuckcraft's Updater Designed by Aerobask Support forum for the Epic E1000 G1000 __________________ Yes! the Epic E1000 G1000 Edition by Aerobask is NOW available from the X-Plane.Org Store here : Epic E1000 G1000 Edition Price is US$34.95 Currently reduced to US$22.72, or a saving of $12.23(35%) Requirements X-Plane 12 (12.08 minimum) or X-Plane 11 Windows, MAC or Linux 8 GB+ VRAM Video Card Recommended Current version: 12.01r (November 24th 2023) ________________ News by Stephen Dutton 27th November 2023 Copyright©2023: X-Plane Reviews Disclaimer. All images and text in this review are the work and property of X-PlaneReviews, no sharing or copy of the content is allowed without consent from the author as per copyright conditions) All Right Reserved.
  17. Aircraft Review : Schweizer S300CBi Helicopter X-Plane 12 by Dreamfoil Creations Without doubt the biggest pioneer in X-Plane Helicopters is Dreamfoil Creations. The list is too long to mention here of over a decade of development, but the Eurocopter AS350 B3+ and Bell 407 are brilliant examples of his work... not to mention the brilliant plugins like DreamEngine sounds. Then Dreamfoil went quiet about three years ago, disappeared off the X-Plane Simulator radar. There was another brilliant project released for X-Plane 11 by Dreamfoil Creations and that was a small gem of a ultra-light Schweizer S300CBi two-seater helicopter, now both DreamFoil and the S300CBi are back for X-Plane 12. By all accounts this the S300CBi a small machine, almost more like a large backpack of strapping on an engine and rotor blades, James Bond style, than a fully fledged flying machine. But even when considering the compact size of the aircraft, it has the capacity to be not only a good working machine, carry two people and fly a fair distance, but I doubt I would want to spend 101 hours in a hover pattern in it. The prototype of this machine first flew as far back 2nd October 1956. In other words only weeks before I was born, and that is nearly sixty seven years ago. That aircraft was the Hughes Model 269, and only by 9th April 1959 did the 269 actually receive certification. In 1964, Hughes introduced the slightly-larger three-seat Model 269B which it marketed as the Hughes 300. The Hughes 300 was followed in 1969 by the improved Hughes 300C (sometimes known as the 269C), which first flew on 6 March 1969 and received FAA certification in May 1970. This new model introduced a more powerful 190 hp (140 kW) Lycoming HIO-360-D1A engine and increased diameter rotor, giving a payload increase of 45%, plus overall performance improvements. It was this model that Schweizer began building the 300C under license from Hughes in 1983. In 1986, Schweizer acquired all rights to the helicopter from McDonnell Douglas, which had purchased Hughes Helicopters in 1984. the helicopter was known for a short time as the Schweizer-Hughes 300C and then simply, the Schweizer 300C. The basic design remained unchanged over the decades. Between both Hughes and Schweizer, and including foreign-licensed production civil and military training aircraft, nearly 3,000 units of the Model 269/300 have been built and flown over the last 50 years. The CBi version available here is the fuel injected version of the 300CB that alleviates carburetor icing concerns in colder temperatures. The 300CBi also includes overspeed protection and an automatic rotor engagement during start-up, as well as a low rotor RPM warning system. So here is the X-Plane 12 version of the S300CBi. If you had flown the original X-Plane 11 version you will find this new version very familiar. It is modeling and detail wise, but there is still a substantial twist on the basics to make the aircraft really shine in X-Plane 12. First off is that the XP12 version has the new 4k PBR textures... and "Wow" I remember the quality was good, but the striking thing here is that the X-Plane 12 detail now feels levels above again over the X-Plane 11 version, you can almost touch those molded pressed metal panels and the rivet construction. Note the absolutely perfect window frame and door panel. The 32.5 gallons (123 liters) fuel tank is perfectly designed as well, most S300's have two for a full 65 Gal capacity, the frame is there, but the tank isn't attached? but wait it is! as the extra range auxiliary tank is now set as an option. The highlight here is the amazing belt system running off the Lycoming HIO-360-D1A engine that connects to the tail rotor prop-shaft, in detail it is astounding in creation and animation, of course your life depends on any of those bands not breaking. The whole guts of the machine is on show, beautifully created, you can spend hours dissecting it all and marveling at the intricate work here, as all detail is so complete. Even small items like the engine oil and air filters, piping and exhaust systems which are all exceptionally well done. Again you feel it all looks very different from the XP11 version, as everything pops out at you and simply cries "Realism". Same options are available with the exhaust, with "Short", "Long" and "Long+Tip" versions all available. Rotor linkages and control rods are the heart of great helicopter design, and shows the skills of the developer. DreamFoil is certainly the best, and the expert work really shows here. As all the links are animated and perfectly done too, and they work (animated) from the cockpit all the way up to the rotor hub and out to the moving blades. Move the controls, Cyclic, Collective and they all work perfectly. More clever stuff is also the rubber covers will also move in shape to the linkage movement... the detail here is in the extreme with great texture work in that the assemblies are perfectly worn and highly realistic. At the end of the long boom tail, the tail rotor assembly is just as highly detailed, with again those magnificent animated boots. Yaw movement (Rudder) is again animated and perfect. Another change is that the rotor hub adjust, where you could move the rotor blades to a set position is now gone (or moved). It is replaced by a "Rotor Tie" menu, that can add on the blade, hub and windshield covers. You can also use the same point and click tool on each of the separate blades. Another point and click menu will lower or raise the wheels, note the lovely spring and cover action to the skids. Initially I found the cockpit windows too dark, almost black compared to the XP11 S300CBi? Then I found in the Menu, now there is a slider that will adjust the translucency of the windows from 0% to 100%, and I found that 50% opacity was about perfect (as before). Doors of course can be opened, or removed altogether, either by touch or via the menu. Cockpit Internally the cockpit is the same, with the same seats and materials. But again everything is highlighted more by the higher quality textures and the excellent X-Plane 12 lighting... Realism 101 Those seats are thin, but the vinyl seating covers are just so realistic in their shapes, stitching and light reflections. Quality headphones that are hanging on the center roof support can be used by clicking on them, and the external sound goes down (slightly) with their usage. Slender collectives both sit between the seats for either pilot or co-pilot use, and you can hide the control set (collective and cyclic) if you want to. Twist throttle movement is excellent. Panel instruments are quite basic which would mean VFR rules only, turn on the power and the GPS Garmin GNS 430 powers up as does the Garmin GTX 32, which is the built in transponder unit. Instruments are top row down is (left to right).... Chronometer, Vertical speed, Speed (knots/MPH), Altitude, Engine RPM, Manifold Pressure. But wait? You can now also select (or insert) an Artificial Horizon (missing before), and that makes the V/S and Altitude instruments shuffle across and down to fit. Another option is to replace the GNS 430 with a Bendix/King KY 98A that is usable for COMM 1 use. A set of six gauges cover... Fuel Gauge - Fuel Pressure Gauge - Cylinder Head Temperature, and lower, Oil Pressure Gauge (PSI) - Oil Temperature Gauge - Ammeter Gauge. Below the gauges is a hourly Hobbs Meter. Lighting switchgear includes - both adjustable avionic and panel lighting, panel main switch, position and beacon switches. Fuel mixture and fuel shutoff knobs with electrical main key switch, Battery and Alternator switches are also lower right panel. All the Circuit Breakers (fuses) are active, and each function is fully listed in the manual. To note that the Cylinder Head Temperature (CHT) here is driven by a custom algorithm which simulates more realistically the CHT behavior to give a more realistic flying experience, instead of it being just a dumb gauge. The Panel at night is very nice (so was the XP11, but a bit too bright) here it is lit perfect. Menu For X-Plane 12 the menu system has been overhauled. Gone is the spinning dial menu, mainly because it was too limited for all the options. The menu now is a bit more a standard rank and file square, but it can hold far more features and options. You access the menu via a "hotspot" top right corner of the Instrument panel... You can also access the menu externally by pressing a "hotspot" lower windshield. Originally you had eight selections, but here you have two more in ten selections... Menu items include: Smart livery - Stability - Customize - Report - Volume - Weights - Correlator - Quick Views - Extra - Settings. Missing is the POV (Point Of View) feature. Smart Livery: There was Eleven liveries with the XP11 version. Installed here are Five liveries: White (default), Calypso, Grapite, Orange, Purple and Silver Blue. But on the X-Plane.Org there are another 25 selections!, so altogether there are 36 liveries to choose from. Note the Calypso, this livery comes with floats. The new Smart Livery menu is of course different than the circular version before, in the choice, it is now on a horizontal scroll. Stability: This feature allows you to specify the percentages for (Yaw, Roll and Pitch) in stability augmentation. The "Rigid Cruise" feature shares the same principle of Stability Augmentation, but instead of keeping in a fixed value, and it will progressively increase the values from Hover to Cruise, in so making long flights an easier task for general simmers.... in other words holds the aircraft to make it easier to fly. Customize: There are a lot (loads) of options were you can customize the S300CBi... top is the "Panel" options in the shown "Alt Indicator" and "Garmin 430" (or Bendix/King KY 98A) Next are options for the "Covers & Tie(downs)", shortcuts include "All On" and "All Off", and "Doors" on/off Next is the "Exhaust" options... Short, Long and Long+Tip "Wheels/Floats/Spray kit" these options first remove the wheels on the skids, put some very nice floats on the S300CBi, and finally install a very nice "Spray Kit" with twin mounted inboard tanks. "Windshield Opacity" can be graded from 0% to 100%, note here is that the setting is not saved? so you have to adjust it at every new startup? Next three options include a "GPU" (Ground Power Unit), but it is more of a Power Stick, called a Li-Ion start stick, which is stuck into the side of the machine. The second "AUX fuel tank" option, and an external "Hook" under the S300CBi. "Governor Kit" allows you to have on the Collective a Governor, or a clean short collective. The Schweizer 300CBi is not equipped with governor from the factory, but in few cases owners do install the kit which is unofficial and may vary on functionality. Last customized options include, a Yaw String in the cockpit window, and the Co-Pilot Cyclic and Rudder Pedals on/off Report: Report gives you a status message about helicopter usage, it's useful to see if you have stressed the helicopter. Includes Fuel estimate – It's an estimate in hours of your current - Datcom Engine (engine hourmeter), Datcom Flight (flight hourmeter), Min and Max G's - This indicates the maximum and minimum values that helicopter structure has experienced, including during a crash. You can also reset "ALL" or "G". Sounds: Sadly the original "DreamEngine" plugin sounds are now long gone. Now replaced with the same sounds, but under the FMOD XP12 system. This is the menu adjustment for eight different sound parameters, the slider adjustment is used to change the percentage % Weights: The Weights menu shows you your: Pilot Weight, Pax Weight, Main Fuel Weight, Aux Fuel Weight - Fuel Estimate and Total (aircraft weight). Colelator: More a developer tool, this shows the aircraft parameters and presets, with a debug option panel lower left. Quick Views: this menu selection gives you ten pre-set views of the internal and external aspects of the S300CBi Extra: There are two "Extra" options. The first is a one page (basic) "Checklist", you scroll it up and down at your convenience. Second option is the "Slung Window" or to see the position of your hung load from the hook. Settings: There are four "Settings" available in... "Units" Metric or Imperial. "External Spots" will put "animated hotspots" on the aircraft for actions like; Rotor Brake, Adding Fuel, Moving Wheels.... One action that has been moved from the top of the main rotor to the tail rotor, is the blade centre adjust. Here now you turn the tail, which moves the main rotor blades to the centre parked position. GeForce... This option allows you to adjust the "Lateral" and "Vertical" forces against the aircraft, and a slider or keypad is used to adjust the percentage % Final "Settings" option is the "Rotor Particles" or the exhaust plume in on/off. In the external view you get a pilot, not the most detailed human, and he is non-animated as well... but he looks fine for the job in hand. __________________ Flying the Schweizer S300CBi I was expecting the Schweizer S300CBi to be very, very nervous or twitchy aircraft, as it is such a very small agile little insect of a machine. But in fact it was quite a well balanced and quite a stable aircraft to fly... the trick is to manage your X-Plane and Dreamfoil settings to get the best balance and control... playing with the yaw response curve can do wonders, also there is a "Cyclic Adjustment" below the front of the main pilot's seat, this actuator is a small electrical motor on cyclic base which can apply lateral and longitudinal forces, and you can adjust it via two rotating knobs. Startup was quite easy. Power (Bat) and Alt switches on, make sure the mixture knob is in, turn the key and hold the starter switch for a short while... (the switch changes if you use the governor, on the short stick the start button is on the front)... so starting is easy, lawnmowers are harder. The Governor will correctly simulate the correlator behavior which is a link between the collective and the throttle to reduce pilot workload, when raising the collective it will also increase throttle or vice-versa. Also notable is the clutch which has 3 modes... OFF – Manual, SLOW – Automatic engage in slow speed and FAST – An automatic engage used when belt system is already on a high temperature, like after a flight. When the temps are up to their correct temperature then you can increase the RPM via the throttle grip, the RPM settles down around 2,700 rpm The slim boom tail yaw can be twitchy at first until you feel it, then your away... slight cyclic forward (not too much!) as you gain height moves you forward, when have enough ground, you can give the cyclic more of a forward push, so you can climb and collect speed at the same time, but don't over do it... just nice and easy. Rate of climb is tops at 750 ft/min (3.82 m/s). Anyway you don't want to go too high, as skimming the trees gives you the feeling of speed, as this critter doesn't really go that fast.... Maximum speed is only 95 kn (109 mph, 176 km/h) and your cruise speed is 86 kn (99 mph, 159 km/h), you could probably run faster. Biggest advantage with the XP12 version is the addition of the Artificial Horizon... I found when I used to fly the S300CBi, it was it always flew a bit lop-sided, because it suited itself flying at this angle. Now I have a reference line to straighten the machine up correctly and it makes a huge difference in your flying... in going straight! Sounds are the same, but slightly more advanced than before in now being FMOD based, but there is still the same excellent 3D zoom with directional sound, with an authentic HO-360 engine sound in the rear, blade slap is great if you push the nose too high and volumetric cockpit sounds come with more noise if you don't wear your headset, or even louder if you open or remove the doors... As you bank or roll, there is the need to push the cyclic slightly forward to keep the altitude correct, keep it centre, and you will climb. But that sweet flying aspect is still there, small cyclic movements does all the work, as this was the biggest attraction to the S300CBi, probably even better now with the superior X-Plane 12 dynamics. Range of the S300CBI is only 195 nmi, 360 km (204 miles). Even though it is only a small container sized cabin. It is all very panoramic, as you feel open and every view is excellent, even the machinery twirling above your head is very noticeable. Certainly if you have a VR (Virtual Reality) headset, it would be levels better again. Effective translational lift (ETL) here is excellent, as you reach into the lower speed zone, around 15 knots, but restraining the speed is quite tricky in trying to slow the Schweizer down... it takes a little practise to get that aspect perfectly right, but Dreamfoil's aircraft were always based very highly on the skills, it is again here. Approaches are low and slow, then find that perfect ETL point as you go into the hover. The S300CBi is still classed as a "light utility" machine, so it is very light in the feel, but you soon switch in... get it wrong though, like I did in the last few feet and the absorbing skids will compress and soften the blow (and your ego)... another great detail from Dreamfoil. Probably need to do that one again. Lighting Cockpit and panel lighting is excellent, the panel as noted is not as bright as the XP11 version, but far better here.... both the instruments and Avionics that can be adjusted separately. External lighting is great with navigation (side rear boom) which are steady, and rear flash strobes. There is a green spot map light on the rear bulkhead that can be fully adjusted in all axis and it is also very good. Under the aircraft there is a spotlight, that is accessed by a hard to see switch on the front of the cyclic. The spotlight is also fully adjustable to get the right lighting angle via a pop-up slider. Summary One of the great X-Plane helicopter developers in Dreamfoil Creations has had a break for a few years. Now he is back with a transition aircraft to X-Plane 12 of his earlier excellent helicopters the Schweizer S300CBi, a twin-seat Ultra-Light for X-Plane 11. This machine was very popular with the punters and chopper jockeys, because of it's sweet flying capabilities, and nothing has certainly changed in that area here, if anything the dynamics are even more heightened in X-Plane 12. When one of the "Old Guard" comes up you can see and feel the difference. Certainly Dreamfoil is a mastercraftsman, but the S300CBI is even more masterful and the extreme quality shows in every part of this helicopter now available in X-Plane 12. It comes with fully functioning systems and components in the rotors and the controls are to be marveled at here, in fact everything can be admired, as the whole machine is exquisitely crafted to the highest degree and takes advantage of all the X-Plane 12 features, a bonus is this is also one of the very best sweetest machines to have and fly. VR ready as well. This is not just a straight conversion to X-Plane 12 of the S300CBi. As almost every area has had attention, notable the PBR textures to 4K, but the glass, sounds (now FMOD) and the details are all enhanced or transformed into a higher quality. The Menu is expanded as well, as long as your arm, and probably your leg as well, it is full of options and tools... including the Smart Livery system (but different here), Stability, Covers/Ties, removable Doors, Floats and an excellent Crop Spray Kit, Aux Tank, Li-Ion start stick, Hook, Govenor Kit and on it goes, and new is windshield Opacity. And all the external spots give you access to the various parts of the aircraft, and Quick Views is in there as well. Basically the "Master" is back, and again Dreamfoil delivers an exceptional Simulation machine in the Schweizer S300CBi. Fabulous investment, but skills are required to get the most out of this Ultra-Light Helicopter. Hopefully more of his Creations in the AS350 B3+ and the Bell 407 will follow the S300CBi into X-Plane 12, until then, you already have a Premier Simulation here for the X-Plane Simulator with this amazing Schweizer machine. __________________________ Yes! - the Schweizer S300CBi XP12 by Dreamfoil Creations is NOW available from the X-Plane.Org Store here : Schweizer S300CBi XP12 Price is US$39.95 : On sale: $39.95 US$34.95 You Save:$5 (13%) Requirements X-Plane 12 Windows, Mac or Linux 8 GB+ VRAM Recommended Download Size: 445 MB Current version : 1.0 (November 20th 2023) Designed by DreamFoil Creations Support forum for the S300CBi XP12 Installation Installation of Schweizer S300CBi XP12 is done via a download of 423 Mb... With a total installation size of 1.02Gb. (Excluding extra liveries) There is one basic Manual pdf (20 pages) Review System Specifications Windows - 12th Gen IS1700 Core i7 12700K 12 Core 3.60 GHz CPU - 64bit -32 Gb single 1067 Mhz DDR4 2133 - PNY GeForce RTX 3080 10GB XLR8 - Samsung 970 EVO+ 2TB SSD Software: - Windows 11 Pro - X-Plane 12.08b3 (This is a Beta review). Plugins: Traffic Global - JustFlight-Traffic (X-Plane.OrgStore) US$52.99 : Global SFD plugin US$30.00 Scenery or Aircraft - KFMY - Page Field - Fort Myers, Florida 1.0 by timbenedict3 (X-Plane.Org) - Free ___________________________ News by Stephen Dutton 25th November 2023 Copyright©2023: X-Plane Reviews (Disclaimer. All images and text in this review are the work and property of X-PlaneReviews, no sharing or copy of the content is allowed without consent from the author as per copyright conditions) All Rights Reserved
  18. That excellent "Save" feature means you don't want to fly anything else... I go on about it I know, but it saves you hours of frustration.
  19. NEWS! - Aircraft Updated : ToLiss Airbus A340-600 to v1.3.0 This is the last Airbus in the ToLiSS fleet (319/320NEO/321) to get the makeover started with the release of the ToLiSS A320-271N NEO back in March 2023. These changes include a new menu look, cockpit printer and with the large A340 size.... loads of new service vehicles, cargo loading, animated deicing, food trucks and passenger stairs. You will also get new improved X-Plane 12 cockpit textures as well. Again there is a load of X-Plane 12 referenced changes, including Improved bleed pressure at cruise, Improved altitude alert logic (C chord and flashing frame), better go around engagement logic, to all GA engagements in the climb phase and the Simbrief winds are also fixed. Full v1.3.0 list is here: New features: - Added In-cockpit printer - Added new ground service vehicles: Cargo loading, animated deicing, Food trucks and passenger stairs - New cockpit textures - Added Radio Altimeter faults - Added new hydraulic overheat model, including HYD ECAM rework as required. - FADEC needs 2-3 seconds to power up - Popout windows now remain visible in external view - Added option to do Pilot Edge ATIS requests - Added dependency on respective electrical busses for oil press indication validity - Added Shed and Land Recovery information to SD ELEC pages. fixes: - Improved bleed pressure at cruise - Improved altitude alert logic (C chord and flashing frame) - Simbrief wind upload should work again. (Note that it extracts the data from the wind data field, not from the flight plan itself.) - Fixed managed speed profile in Go Around after acceleration altitude - Removed armed NAV mode when performing a TO without FDs. - Prevent overwriting of cruise waypoint wind data when reaching TOC or initiating S/Cs. - improved go around engagement logic, to all GA engagement also in climb phase. - Added 3s timeout when pressing the status page with status "NORMAL". - Round metric FCU altitude on PFD to 10m - Improved logic for C-chord and altitude frame pulsing - Improved Flight Control Computer backup supply logics The Airbus A340 is a long-range, wide-body passenger airliner that was developed and produced by Airbus. In the mid-1970s, Airbus conceived several derivatives of the A300, its first airliner, and developed the A340 quadjet in parallel with the A330 twinjet. In June 1987, Airbus launched both designs with their first orders and the A340-300 took its maiden flight on 25 October 1991. It was certified along with the A340-200 on 22 December 1992 and both versions entered service in March 1993 with launch customers Lufthansa and Air France. The larger A340-500/600 were launched on 8 December 1997; the A340-600 flew for the first time on 23 April 2001 and entered service on 1 August 2002. You can update to the new v1.3.0 by going to your X-Plane.Org Store account and download. The v1.3.0 update is also available to download via the new Skunkcraft Updater Design by Toliss Discussion about the A340 Addition Liveries _______________________________ Yes! the Airbus A340-600 v1.3.0 by ToLiSS is available from the X-Plane.Org Store here : Airbus A340-600 by ToLiSS Price is US$89.99 Most accurate system functionality for any A340 aircraft in the flight simulation world Requirements X-Plane 12 and X-Plane 11 - not available for MSFS Windows, Mac or Linux 4 GB VRAM Minimum - 8 GB+ VRAM Recommended Not for commercial use. For any commercial use enquiries, please contact [email protected] Download Size: 1.2 GB Current version: 1.3.0 (November 22nd 2023) _____________________ NEWS! by Stephen Dutton 23rd November 2023 Copyright©2022: X-Plane Reviews (Disclaimer. All images and text in this review are the work and property of X-PlaneReviews, no sharing or copy of the content is allowed without consent from the author as per copyright conditions) All Rights Reserved
  20. NEWS! - Aircraft Updated : Citation C-560XL XP12 v1.5 by AirSim3D AirSim 3D are back with another update to v1.5 for the excellent Citation C-560 XL. Again the update uses references to the latest X-Plane 12.08 release in performance and flight model tuning, plus it also has a new "Crash" factor that makes a hard landing another experience altogether again. V1.5 notes... 1) Landing gear buckles realistically on hard-landing TD's -- Realistic and Augmented modes use different tolerances 2) Real-time livery changes updates aircraft reg N automatically to remain synced with new/updated XP12.0.8x features, functions, requirements to continue working 99% bug free: 3) Engine and Autothrottle 4) Fuel system 5) XFeed functionality 6) AO and flight model tuning 7) Texture/PBR materials updates: Especially Aluminum PBR. Also custom bump mapping tweaks. AO: softer cockpit AO shading. LR still needs to tune their AA and AO more so we'll keep updating these as they bake. 8 ) LR introduced new "ground services" functions. The C-560XL however has a completely self-contained and custom GPU. Now updated so pilots do NOT need to "call ground services" each time for starting/using the C-560XL custom GPU. A "Cold and Dark setup video was also released by AirSim 3Da few weeks ago, very good it is. The Cessna Citation Excel (XL) is an American midsize business jet in the Cessna Citation family. Announced in October 1994, the Model 560XL first flew on February 29, 1996, certification was granted in April 1998, and over 1,000 have been delivered. The 2,100 nmi-range (3,900 km), 20,200 lb (9,200 kg) MTOW jet is powered by two 3,650–4,080 lbf (16.2–18.1 kN) PW545 turbofans, has the cruciform tail and unswept supercritical wing of the Citation V (560), and a slightly shortened Citation X stand-up cabin. The full X-Plane 12 C-560XL review is here: Aircraft Update : Citation C-560XL X-Plane 12 by AirSim3D “My main interest is flying bizjets, and this one is an excellent addition to my ''hanger".... Also, Support responds very quickly on this forum too. Thanks for that." “Just doing a night flight, the night lighting is excellent. I do like this airplane a lot” “Engine sounds are really good inside and out. I live near an airport, and it sounds like the real Citations as they take off” “The best aircraft of my hangar .. and I have all the other more popular biz jets and Airliners!! From the XPlaneReview: “Having flown the XL a lot over the past month, I now really love it, even miss it a lot when flying other aircraft. Recommended.” “Are ya'll thinking about making other AWESOME models like this one? 5 Star (support) service!” Designed by AirSim3D Support forum for the C-560 XL ____________________ Yes! the Cessna Citation 560XL X-Plane 12 v1.5 by AirSim3d is NOW available from the X-Plane.Org Store here: Cessna Citation 560XL XP12 Price is US$59.95 Cessna Citation 560XL XP11 Price is US$49.95 Cessna Citation 560XL XP12 + XP11 Price is US$79.95 Features: AirSim3D C-560 XL: Real-Jet authenticity Real jet visits at Boeing airfield were extensively used to inform build and design decisions 100’s of pages of real POH manuals, specs, drawings, pics used Real pilot tested and extensively beta tested Result: real-world systems, lighting, functions, modeling and procedures authenticity Requirements X-Plane 12 Only Windows, Mac or Linux 4 GB VRAM Minimum - 8 GB+ VRAM Recommended Current version : 1.5 (November 21st 2023) There are 3 purchase options for the 560 XL XP11 only Version . Get it here XP12 only Version. Get it here XP12 and XP11 Bundle . Get it here (this one) Important Notes: If you purchased the 560XL before March 15th, your purchase already includes XP11 and XP12 versions There will be no upgrade between packages so please make sure you get the right one. ___________________________ News by Stephen Dutton 23rd November 2023 Copyright©2023: X-Plane Reviews (Disclaimer. All images and text in this review are the work and property of X-PlaneReviews, no sharing or copy of the content is allowed without consent from the author as per copyright conditions) All Rights Reserved
  21. NEWS! - Scenery Upgraded : Dortmund XP12 by Aerosoft Here is an upgrade to the Dortmund XP scenery to X-Plane 12 by Aerosoft. In the package you get both the older X-Plane 11 version and the newer X-Plane 12 version, with all the XP12 effects and quality detail. Besides the entire urban area of Dortmund in the center of the Ruhr region, Germany. The Airport Dortmund (EDLW) is included as well as the airfield Hengsen-Opherdicke (EO08) and its surroundings, which were created and all included in this very large scenery package. The helipad of the Hospital Centre North also completes the scenery. Both the airport and the city were modelled using photo realistic ground textures and offer highly detailed buildings and landmarks in addition to the autogen that was corrected by hand. Excellent lighting and night effects and animated objects top the appearance of the scenery off. Features: both XP12 and XP11 versions included Detailed rendition of the airport and its surroundings, incl. landmark objects Photo realistic ground textures based on aerial images (50cm/px) All airport buildings and facilities True-to-original navigation aids (ILS, VOR/DME, NDB, ATIS) Excellent night effects True-to-original runway and taxiway lighting Detailed 3D city model of Dortmund incl. colour-corrected 60cm/px aerial image covering the entire city area Authentic rendition of the airfield Hengsen-Opherdicke incl. colour-corrected 30cm/px aerial image The aerial images for Hengsen-Opherdicke can be turned off Autogen covering the area of the aerial image, corrected by hand Animated wind objects: wind turbines and windsocks specific to Hengsen-Opherdicke as well as the helipad the Hospital Centre North Ship traffic at the Dortmund-Ems Canal when using the Seatraffic plug-in by Marginal/Jonathan Harris Volumetric grass, toggleable PBR-based reflecting water surfaces Backup library – runs without add-ons Notable is that you have to use the "Aerosoft One" application to install (update) the Dortmund XP12 scenery... Installation of Dortmund XP12 is done through Aerosoft one installer: Aerosoft One Universal After you have installed Aerosoft One, click on ENTER PRODUCT KEY (under the Library Tab) enter the Serial Number provided in this order. This will give you the option to download the airport. Note the different X-Plane 11 and X-Plane 12 installations. __________________________ Yes! Airport Dortmund XP12 XP by Aerosoft is now Available from the X-Plane.Org Store here : Dortmund XP12 Price Is US$22.99 Requirements: X-Plane 12 or X-Plane 11 (both versions supported) Windows, Mac or Linux 8 GB+ VRAM Recommended Download Size: 4 Gb Current version : 1.0 (XP12, November 21st 2023) ___________________________ News by Stephen Dutton 22nd November 2023 Copyright©2023: X-Plane Reviews (Disclaimer. All images and text in this review are the work and property of X-PlaneReviews, no sharing or copy of the content is allowed without consent from the author as per copyright conditions) All Rights Reserved
  22. NEWS! - Plugin Update : WebFMC PRO by Green Arc Studios updates to 2.3.0 One of the most versatile plugins for remotely imputing FMC data is Green Arc Studios WebFMC PRO. This newly released version is v2.3.0. The update covers support for the FPS E195, CDU status lights in Zibo's 738, EXEC status light in IXEG 737 1.5.x and LSK buttons UI glitch in Q4XP... notable is the custom crash handler per Laminar's guidelines (Windows only for now). The WebFMC is a plugin that allows you to use a FMC (Flight Management Computer) on an external screen via a web browser. That is an another computer or tablet. So it is a remote tool, but a very beneficial tool and even a powerful one in programming in route and performance data and following the set aircraft route in flight and in mirroring the aircraft's built in FMS (Flight Management System). Added into the functionality is a load of features in the use of the FMC on another screen. WebFMC Pro is available as noted for X-Plane 12, and also previously for X-Plane 11, if you already have WebFMC Pro for X-Plane 11, then there is still (but now for only a limited time ) an upgrade for previous users, there is also a US$10 off offer to upgrade to the X-Plane 12 version. This upgrade covers your plugin and service updates for the full run of the X-Plane 12 version. Currently there is also a US$5 off offer for new purchasers of this excellent tool. There is a WebFMC DEMO version also available that has access to the default X-Plane 12/11 Boeing 737-800/Zibo 737-800. In v2.3.0 there are also changes for the free version... Native support for Apple Silicon (M1/M2/M3) Support all CDU status lights in Zibo's 738 (make sure to have up-to-date zibo mod, i.e. 4.0rc8 or newer) Implemented custom crash handler per Laminar's guidelines (Windows only for now) WebFMC Pro supports a growing number of 3rd party aircraft: Default X-Plane FMC DualCDU FPS 195 NEW! Hot Start CL650 TripleCDU FlyJSim Q4XP DualCDU ToLiss A319 DualCDU ToLiss A320 DualCDU ToLiss A321 DualCDU ToLiss A340 DualCDU FlightFactor 757 v2 Professional DualCDU FlightFactor 767 Professional DualCDU FlightFactor 777 Professional FlightFactor A320 Ultimate DualCDU FlightFactor A350 (old style MCDU) Rotate MD-11 TripleCDU Rotate MD-80 X-Crafts E-Jets Family DualCDU X-Crafts ERJ Family DualCDU IXEG 737-300 DualCDU JarDesign 330 JarDesign 340 JRollon CRJ-200 SSG 747-8 Series Zibo Mod 737-800 DualCDU Support for all aircraft that use X-Plane FMC All airliners that come installed with X-Plane, as well as some 3rd party aircraft (e.g. FlyJSim 727v3, 737v3 and a few others) use the default FMC implemented by X-Plane. Since WebFMC Pro supports the default FMC, these aircraft are automatically supported as well, even though they are not listed explicitly on the above list! Update download to v2.3.0 is now available at the X-Plane.Org Store, just remember to swap over your registration txt to the new version folder. ____________________________________ Yes! WebFMC Pro v2.3.0 XP12 by Green Arc Studios is NOW AVAILABLE from the X-Plane.Org Store here : WebFMC Pro XP12 Price is US$29.99 On sale for US$24.95 You Save:$5.00(17%) Current WebFMC XP11 users can get this new XP12 version at $10 off. Please find the coupon code in the original WebFMC Invoice X-Plane 12 Operating system requirements: - Windows 10 64-bit - Mac OS 10.15 (Catalina) or newer - Ubuntu 22.04 LTS 64-bit Web Client requirements The CDU can be displayed on any modern and up-to-date web browser with JavaScript support. We recommend the latest versions of Google Chrome on PC or Android and Safari on iOS. No internet connection required, remote device needs to be on the same local network as X-Plane PC. We do not guarantee support for vintage and obsolete iOS devices (according to official Apple classification, here: https://support.apple.com/en-us/HT201624). If you have an old device try WebFMC Free before buying or upgrading. Access CDU / FMC of select X-Plane 12 airplanes via any modern web browser running on your PC or mobile device over local network. Quick and easy access to the FMC Get easy access to the FMC: quickly edit the flightplan, monitor flight progress, set up your approach and do all the typical work of the pilot without having to move around in the cockpit, even if the plane doesn’t support FMC as a popup natively - on the same PC, or different monitor, tablet or phone - in fact you can use multiple displays at the same time! Make pilot tasks easy and comfortable Enjoy external views during cruise while monitoring flight progress on separate screen or take a quick look at your phone to verify calculated landing speed with just a glimpse of an eye during busy time on approach. Make flying complex SIDs / STARs easy as you can focus on the important flight parameters while having overview of the constraints all the time. Take your mobile to the kitchen as you cook a dinner during a long haul and never miss T/D again! Convenient to use Use physical keyboards on PC with extra keys such as Prev/Next page mapped to keyboard keys for easy access. WebFMC scales dynamically to fit any display or window size and can look as native app on mobiles by using browser's "Add to home screen" feature. Web Client The CDU can be displayed on any modern and up-to-date web browser with JavaScript support. We recommend the latest versions of Google Chrome on PC or Android and Safari on iOS. No internet connection required, remote device needs to be on the same local network as X-Plane PC. Support for WebSockets RFC 6455 standard is required which implies at least iOS version 6. _________________________________ NEWS! by Stephen Dutton 22nd November 2023 Copyright©2023 : X-Plane Reviews  (Disclaimer. All images and text in this review are the work and property of X-PlaneReviews, no sharing or copy of the content is allowed without consent from the author as per copyright conditions) 
  23. NEWS! - Aircraft Release : Schweizer S300Bi for X-Plane 12 by Dreamfoil Creations One of the great champions of Helicopters in the X-Plane Simulator has been "Missing in Action" over the last few years, and his absence has been seriously noticed. This is Dreamfoil Creations. But he is back with an X-Plane 12 version of the Schweizer S300Bi, was a real hoot to fly in X-Plane 11, this ultra-light barnstormer of a machine is now X-Plane 12 compatible. The S-300 is light utility helicopter originally produced by Hughes Helicopters, Later manufactured by Schweizer Aircraft an American Company, the basic design has been in production for almost 50 years. The single, three-bladed main rotor and piston-powered S-300 is mostly used as a cost-effective platform for training and agriculture. This model is a replica of the S300Cbi, a fuel injected version of the 300CB that alleviates carburetor icing concerns in colder temperatures. Features include: Detailed Model New 4k PBR textures Highly detailed interior and exterior model Custom commands for all switches GTX327 transponder simulation Artificial horizon and Garmin 430 as fittable equipment Functional custom warning lights with integrated test buttons Fully articulated 3D rotor and blade flex Blade tie system 3D propeller for tail rotor Custom animations for panel switches/keys/handles/gauges Animated transmission belt with clutch stretch system Enhanced night lighting with spill lights Custom Beacon/Strobe lights 3 Interchangeable Exhausts Removable copilot cyclic and pedals Realistic 3D Yaw string Removable Doors Main rotor covers can be activated by clicking on blade tips or hub Windshield cover Weather and dust particle effects for main rotor Realistic flight model Built around XP12 flight model with accurate and authentic flight model Accurate autorotation parameters STAR/AES system simulated Start-up overspeed limiter Automatic Rotor Engagement Low-Rotor RPM Warning Functional circuit breakers Pilot / Passenger weight affect CG Correlator simulation Governor kit available Flexible skids Rotor hold/drag allow to change rotor position with engine off Cyclic with functional lateral and longitudinal frictions Collective functional friction 2 Hobbs Meter with per livery persistent data (engine / flight) Realistic startup with custom vibrations External objects and tools Hook for sling load operations Functional floats Transport wheels, can be used with engine off to move helicopter on the ground Removable Auxiliary Tank New Li-Ion start stick GPU (Ground Power Unit) CropDuster version with customizable weight and flow rate SmartMenu New SmartLivery compatible with X-Plane default icons Improved font rendering with TTF support Stability options Windshield opacity control Customize your equipments Report (per livery) with your flight time and recorded G limits Easy access to X-Plane volume Easy access to aircraft weights Correlator with 3 different presets and customization Quick views menu other FMOD sounds Authentic HO-360 engine sound Blade slap Volumetric cockpit 3D positional sounds Headphone simulation Sound interaction with doors Enhanced cabin weather sounds VR Ready Comes with fully interactive manipulators compatible with VR SmartMenu also compatible with VR Customers who own the DreamFoil S300CBi XP11 can get this new XP12 version for $15 off. Coupon code can be found in the original S300CBi XP11 invoice at the X-Plane.OrgStore. Original S300CBi X-Plane 11 Review is here: Aircraft Release : Schweizer S300CBi  Helicopter by Dreamfoil Creations Designed by DreamFoil Creations Support forum for the S300CBi XP12 Super nice to have Dreamfoil back in the air... it's going to be a great 2024 __________________________ Yes! - the Schweizer S300CBi XP12 by Dreamfoil Creations is NOW available from the X-Plane.Org Store here : Schweizer S300CBi XP12 Price is US$39.95 : On sale: $39.95 US$34.95 You Save:$5 (13%) Requirements X-Plane 12 Windows, Mac or Linux 8 GB+ VRAM Recommended Download Size: 445 MB Current version : 1.0 (November 20th 2023) ___________________________ News by Stephen Dutton 21st November 2023 Copyright©2023: X-Plane Reviews (Disclaimer. All images and text in this review are the work and property of X-PlaneReviews, no sharing or copy of the content is allowed without consent from the author as per copyright conditions) All Rights Reserved
  24. NEWS! - Variant Release : Cessna 172 NG ANALOG by AirfoilLabs After AirfoilLabs successful Garmin G1000 DIGITAL version of the venerable Cessna 172. Here is the Analog variant of the same aircraft. AirfoilLabs has highly detailed the differences between the two variants. 1. Aesthetic and Experience The ANALOG C172 is a tribute to the golden age of aviation, showcasing beautifully crafted analog gauges. This simulation is not just a flight experience; it's a journey back through time. Every needle and every mechanical component has been meticulously modeled with an extraordinary level of detail, bringing the classic era to life. The animations are layered with realistic behaviors, capturing nuances such as vibrations and turbulence effects, adding to the authenticity of the experience. These features embody the charm and complexity of traditional aviation, making every session with the ANALOG C172 a step into a richly detailed and classic General Aviation experience. The DIGITAL version focuses on modernity with its G1000 avionics. A contemporary approach for modern simulation enthusiasts. 2. Customizable Avionics System The ANALOG C172 takes customization to new heights with its innovative system that allows users to tailor the avionics components in the radio panel stack. This feature empowers users to place and configure their preferred instruments precisely as they desire, ensuring a personalized and satisfying flying experience. Adding to this customization capability, the inclusion of the RXP GTN750 stands out as a notable enhancement, providing users with advanced navigation and flight planning tools at their fingertips. This level of customization in the ANALOG C172 truly sets it apart, offering a deeply individualized and immersive simulation experience. C172 DIGITAL: Includes No Bezels Garmin Displays for a more technologically advanced experience. 3. System The ANALOG C172 distinguishes itself with a uniquely designed electrical system. This system is not only different in its configuration compared to the DIGITAL version but also in the intricate details of switches and circuit breakers wiring. The electrical components and their state are displayed "live" in a 2D window. Additionally, it boasts a distinct lighting system that enhances the overall experience, adding to the authenticity and depth of the simulation. These refinements in the ANALOG C172's systems contribute significantly to its unique character and appeal. 4. Flight Model and Components Differences While the ANALOG version of the C172 shares many flight model and performance characteristics with its Digital counterpart (the original C172 "S"), it stands apart in its intricate mechanical and electrical interconnected components. This differentiation extends beyond mere physical attributes, as we simulate a vast array of potential aircraft failures. The logic governing these failures in the ANALOG version is distinctively different from that in the Digital version. This variance not only adds depth to the simulation experience but also introduces a layer of complexity and realism, making the ANALOG C172 a unique and engaging choice. 5. Distinctive Interior Sound Design The ANALOG version, while featuring the same engine and thus sharing identical engine sounds with its counterpart, distinguishes itself through the unique sounds of its interior components. This differentiation is most evident in the auditory experience of the avionics components, such as the switch sounds, gyro, fans, autopilot, and other internal systems. Each of these components produces its own distinct sound, contributing to a rich and immersive auditory environment that enhances the overall simulation experience. All these samples were recorded in the original aircraft. This attention to the nuanced sounds of each interior element adds a layer of realism and depth, making the ANALOG version a delight for those who appreciate the intricate symphony of aircraft interiors. There are no comments on if there is a discount if you already own the DIGITAL variant of AirfoilLabs C172, it is not noted. But there is already a 10.00(17%) saving on the full price. The best current General Aviation aircraft in the X-Plane Simulator... it has to be right up there for the detail and features! "The most successful aircraft in history the Cessna 172S is now rebuilt from scratch by Airfoillabs for X-Plane as New Generation Airfoillabs Product Series. You can expect unprecedented Study Level Simulation of C172S with Analog Avionics." Designed by AirfoilLabs Support forum for the C172 NG Analog ________________________________ The C172SP NG ANALOG by AirfoilLabs is NOW available here at the X-Plane.OrgStore 172SP NG ANALOG Price is US$59.95 Currently US$49.95... You Save:US$10.00(17%) Requirements: X-Plane 12 (not for XP11) Windows, Mac Intel, Mac Silicon, or Linux 8 GB+ VRAM Recommended Current version: 1.0 (November 17th 2023) ___________________________ News by Stephen Dutton 20th November 2023 Copyright©2023: X-Plane Reviews (Disclaimer. All images and text in this review are the work and property of X-PlaneReviews, no sharing or copy of the content is allowed without consent from the author as per copyright conditions) All Rights Reserved
  25. NEWS! - VSKYLABS Hungarocopter HC-02 updates to v1.1 After just over over five weeks since it's release. VSkyLabs has already done a significant update to their excellent Hungarocopter HC-02. Mostly the changes are a reflection to the handling and dynamic changes in X-Plane 12.08. The full release review of the VSkyLabs Hungarocopter is here: Aircraft Review : Hungarocopter HC-02 by vSkyLabs Version 1.1 (18th November 2023): Flight dynamics: Nominal manifold pressure (MAP) fine tuning for takeoff and cruise following Hungarocopter feedback. Governor 103% power mode was implemented. Activation in toggle mechanism via the red push-button on-top of the cyclic head. When the governor is engaged and the mode is activated, the governor increases engine's RPM to 103%. When the mode is engaged, the governor light blinks. To disable the mode, repress the button. Empty weight tuneup to 330 kg. Digital displays and interactions: Implemented dual-system QNH settings (press the QNH setting button to switch systems). Fuel consumption is now displayed both in l/hr (main display) and gal/h (main display - lower data section). MAP indication - fixed typo to InHg. Strobe light switch default position is 'ON' (even in cold and dark). If you forget to switch off the battery, the strobe light flashes! This is the current real-world Hungarocopter checklist practice! Fuel tank selector default position is 'ON' (even in cond and dark). This is the current real-world Hungarocopter checklist practice! 3-d modeling and fixes: Added missing pins to adjustable pedals mechanism (visual only). Weights for solo-flight are now visible only in solo flight (when the passenger weight is set to zero). ASI scale goes up to 110 knots. Collective friction mechanism was added and animated (visual only). FMOD sound pack: Implemented Cabin and Windscreen fan sounds. Fans can be activated only when electrical power is on. Purchase of the HC-02 is usually US$29.95, but currently the aircraft is 35% off at a very reasonable US$19.47 So be QUICK! Designed by VSKYLABS Support forum for the HC-02 ___________________________ Yes! - the Hungarocopter HC-02 v1.1 by vSkyLabs is NOW available from the X-Plane.Org Store here : Hungarocopter HC-02 Price is US$29.95 : On sale: $29.95 US$19.47 You Save:$10.48(35%) Requirements X-Plane 12 (not for X-Plane 11) Windows, Mac or Linux 4 GB VRAM Minimum - 8 GB+ VRAM Recommended Current version: 1.1 (November 18th 2023) ___________________________ News by Stephen Dutton 20th November 2023 Copyright©2023: X-Plane Reviews (Disclaimer. All images and text in this review are the work and property of X-PlaneReviews, no sharing or copy of the content is allowed without consent from the author as per copyright conditions) All Rights Reserved
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